Greenetrack wins major victory for gaming in Greene County by recent decision of the Alabama Tax Tribunal

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher

On August 29, 2019, Jeff Patterson, Chief Judge for the Alabama Tax Tribunal rendered a decision voiding over $75 million in sales taxes and $746.292 in consumer use taxes claimed by the State of Alabama against Greenetrack, Inc.
These taxes and interest were imposed by the State of Alabama after an audit for the period January 2004 to December 2008 and related solely to bingo operations at the taxpayer’s facility – Greenetrack.
Luther ‘Nat’ Winn, CEO of Greenetrack, in an interview with this reporter, said, “We are pleased that the Tax Tribunal, headed by a judge, appointed by Governor Kay Ivey, took an objective view of this matter and gave us a fair hearing on the law and the merits of our case.”
“This matter has been going on for over a decade and we are pleased to see it ended in our favor. Gov. Bob Riley conducted the original tax audit as part of his efforts to closedown Greenetrack and electronic bingo in Greene County,” added Winn
The thirteen page analysis and decision of the Alabama Tax Tribunal reviews the history of Greenetrack’s exemption from sales tax on gaming, starting with dog racing
and continuing to include simulcasting of dog and horse races as well as gaming through electronic bingo, which was the subject of the tax liability that was in dispute.
The original legislation, Act 1975-376, allowing dog racing at Greenetrack imposed various license fees and taxes by the Greene County Racing Commission, also included Section 16, which stated “the license fees, commissions and excise taxes imposed herein shall be in lieu of all license, excise and occupational taxes to the State of Alabama.”

Greenetrack relied on the exemption specified in Section 16 to cover all gaming activities including bingo, which has grown to be the largest part of its revenues.The Tax Tribunal also cites later tax legislation, passed by the Alabama Legislature in 1986, which imposed sales taxes on merchandise, food and beverages sold at dog racetracks within the state. This legislation imposed other occupational, income and ad valorem property taxes on dog tracks but specifically exempted sales tax on admissions and the wagering handle at these facilities.
The Tax Tribunal in its decision voiding the sales taxes imposed on bingo gaming in Greene County said that it was not a legislative body and could not “displace the legislature by amending statutes to make them express what we think the legislature should have done.”
At the end of his decision, Jeff Patterson, chief Judge of the Alabama Tax Tribunal, gives the State of Alabama thirty (30) days to appeal its decision to the Circuit Court. When asked if he expected the State of Alabama to appeal, Winn said, “I cannot speak for the State but I hope they will not appeal and have confidence in the decision of their Department of Revenue administrative judges.”
Knowledgeable observers of the bingo battles between the State of Alabama, Greenetrack and other bingo operators feel this is a great victory that could have imposed retroactive sales taxes on gaming in Greene County that would have closed down this tourist industry, which is providing jobs and fee revenues to government agencies, municipalities, education, healthcare and other services in the county.

Newswire: NAREB urges Black Americans not to defer their dream of homeownership

By:WASHINGTON INFORMER, BlackPressUSA

— “Statistics show that there are 1.7 million Black millennials making $100,000 or more and could improve their financial futures with homeownership or participation in real estate investment opportunities.
NAREB is determined to reach them with messages that rebut, yet improve, some of their current lifestyle choices,” says Donnell Williams, the newly installed president of NAREB. What’s more, he adds, homeownership is critical. “One clear message to millennials: Think about a house before you buy the car.”

According to the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) wealth building usually begins with that first investment in owning your own home. Whether you purchase a first-time “starter” home or inherit a property or residence, you start down the road to building wealth. But something has changed in the Black community. The U.S. Census Bureau’s latest statistics indicate that the Black homeownership rate has dropped once again.

Now at 40.6%, the rate starkly signals a continual loss of wealth for Black Americans. By comparison, the non-Hispanic White homeownership rate for the same period was reported to be 73.1%, a nearly 30% difference. There’s a problem and NAREB is on point to stop the loss and return Black Americans to wealth building through homeownership of real estate investment.

NAREB is aware that the Black community, particularly its local and national leaders, may need a clear, strong wake-up call to reverse this daunting downward trend.
What are the causes? But more importantly, what are the solutions? What can the community of concern do to prompt home purchase and therefore, wealth building?
These and other questions are slated to be addressed at NAREB’s annual “State of Black America” forum to be convened at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 2019 Annual Legislative Conference, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, 2:00p.m.- 4:00p.m.
Expert panelists, steeped in the issues, the disparities and likely solutions to raising Black homeownership are committed to working with NAREB on its mission to restore confidence in the real estate market, identify critical systemic blockages, and outline the concerted advocacy strategies that lawmakers at every level of government need to keep in mind to improve Black homeownership outcomes.
During the forum, Donnell Williams, the newly installed president of NAREB, will announce an aggressive program to reach out and encourage Black millennials to consider, or re-consider, homeownership as a wealth building tool.

Newswire: BCRI gets 17 new board members with Angela Davis fiasco behind

By Erica Wright, Birmingham Times

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute


Following backlash from a decision to rescind an invitation to civil rights activist Angela Davis, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) will get a dozen new board members.
The Birmingham City Council on Tuesday confirmed the appointment of 17 members – 12 new — to the BCRI board. Two additional seats are pending Council approval on next week’s regular agenda.
Earlier this year, several board members resigned following an outcry after the board rescinded the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award to international activist and Birmingham native Angela Davis.
“We’re delighted to bring forth the slate of names of board members who have been chosen in a period of some disruption that found us in a very awkward position as an organization and in search of new leadership to help us pursue our mission to promote and preserve human and civil rights for all people,” said Andrea Taylor, president and CEO of the BCRI.
The BCRI reappointed five members, who will be serving their second term, in addition to new members.
The five reappointed were Rosilyn Houston, a senior executive with BBVA USA; Danny Markstein, president of Markstein, a full service marketing and communications agency; John Oros, president of the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau; Jonathan Porter, vice president at Alabama Power and Reverend Thomas Wilder, pastor of historic Bethel Baptist Church.
The new appointed members are Cassandra Adams, Samford University Cumberland School of Law; William Burgess of Burgess Fine Arts; Dr. Tamera Beasley, Pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham; Nyesha Black, Regional Planning Commission; Robert Dickerson, a local businessman and executive director of the Birmingham Business Resource Center; Daryl Grant, an executive at KPMG Advisory Services; Angela McKenzie, Regions Bank; Richard Rice, The Rice Firm, LLC; John Saxon, John D. Saxon P.C.; David Thomas, District Manager at Starbucks; Reverend Gwendolyn Webb, with Foot Soldiers International and Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church and Yolanda Clayton, who formerly served as a chief of staff for Jefferson County Commission District 1.
In March, the BCRI received more than 50 nominations.
“We narrowed that down . . . to a group of about 20 and we had three days of interviews with those 20 individuals to determine their qualifications, interests, skills and their willingness to serve and from that number we selected 12 new prospective board members for the BCRI,” Taylor said.
A few days after the BCRI rescinded the award, three board members resigned which were Mike Oatridge, Walter Body and Janice Kelsey. As a result of that, two other board members subsequently resigned. After those five resigned, it left eight members on the board.
The eight remaining board members were eligible for a second term on the board and encouraged to reapply, however two chose not to, leaving six current board members to reapply.
Taylor appeared at the city council meeting with 18 appointments – six returning and 12 new- however, one of the returning board members, Isaac Cooper, name was taken off the slate to further amend his term appointment and his name will be on the slate next week for the council to confirm along with one other board member.
Their bylaws allow for up to 27 members, but for now, 21 is ideal.
Councilor Steven Hoyt applauded the BCRI for its diligence in selecting new board members.
“I’m glad that you and the board found it necessary to have such diversity, you have to have it in order to be conscious of where we are and the climate we’re . . . and the more we can promote [diversity)] , I think the better we can expect our society to be.”

Newswires: Brennen Center report finds 17 million voters purged nationwide between 2016 – 2018

By Stacy M. Brown, BlackPressUSA

Voting stickers

A Brennan Center analysishas found that at least 17 million voters were purged nationwide between 2016 and 2018, similar to the numbers discovered between 2014 and 2016.
Using data released by the Federal Election Assistance Commission, the Brennan Center found that counties with a history of voter discrimination have continued purging people from the rolls at high rates.
“This phenomenon began after the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, a decision that severely weakened the protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” the report states.
“Before the Shelby County decision, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act required jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to submit proposed changes in voting procedures to the Department of Justice or a federal court for approval, a process known as ‘preclearance,’” the report’s authors wrote.
The Brennan Center first identified this troubling voter purge trend in a major report released in July 2018.
As the nation heads toward the all-important 2020 election cycle, many said they’re concerned with voter purging and the ever-present threat of voter disenfranchisement.
“Automatic voter registration is a great way to be sure that every eligible American is registered to vote,” said Dr. Margaret Groarke, an associate professor of political science at Manhattan College in New York.
“Whether this prevents voter suppression is complicated by the fact that there are many ways that people suppress the vote,” Groarke said.
“Key strategies today are over-inclusive voter purges, strict voter ID laws, and making threats that people with unpaid fines or warrants shouldn’t come near the polls,” she said.
“Automatic voter registration might counteract the effect of purges, but will do nothing to stop other strategies,” Groarke said.
The Brennan Center report follows aCenter for American Progress analysis that examined how conservative lawmakers are suppressing the votes of people of color, young people, and those with disabilities.
From discriminatory voter ID laws in places such as North Dakota, South Carolina, and Michigan to failures to provide early polling places in a majority-black neighborhood in Texas and the freezing of more than 50,000 voter registrations in Georgia, voter suppression is rampant in 2018, according to the CAP report.
“Voter suppression is widespread again this year, and these efforts from conservative lawmakers largely target people of color, young people, and people with disabilities,” Connor Maxwell, a research associate for Race and Ethnicity Policy at the CAP, said in a news release.
“Despite these efforts, there are many steps people can take to ensure their vote counts on election day,” Maxwell said.
Voting is a fundamental right for all U.S. citizens, “so we encourage everyone to double-check their voter registration; determine ahead of time whether you need to bring certain materials to the polls; and take advantage of the many voter assistance hotlines if you run into problems,” said Danielle Root, a voting rights manager at the CAP.
In its report, The Brennan Center noted why voter purges could prove problematic.
“If a voter moves from Georgia to New York, they are no longer eligible to cast a ballot in the Peach State. As such, they should be removed from Georgia’s voter rolls,” Brennan authors said, as an example.
The report continued:
“Similarly, voters who have passed away should be removed from the rolls. Reasonable voter list maintenance ensures voter rolls remain up to date. Problems arise when states remove voters who are still eligible to vote.
“States rely on faulty data that purport to show that a voter has moved to another state. Frequently, these data get people mixed up. In big states like California and Texas, multiple individuals can have the same name and date of birth, making it hard to be sure that the right voter is being purged when perfect data are unavailable.
“Troublingly, minority voters are more likely to share names than white voters, potentially exposing them to a greater risk of being purged and voters often don’t realize they’ve been purged until they try to cast a ballot on Election Day – after it’s already too late.”
The Brennan Center’s report authors said as the 2020 election cycle heats up, election administrators must be transparent about how they’re deciding what names to remove from the rolls.
They must be diligent in their efforts to avoid erroneously purging voters, the report’s authors said.
“And they should push for reforms like automatic voter registration and election day registration which keep voters’ registration records up to date,” the authors wrote.
This post originally appeared in The Washington Informer.

Newswire : Gov. Kay Ivey says ‘Heavens no,’ she won’t resign over 1967 blackface skit

By Mike Cason | mcason@al.com

Gov. Kay Ivey made her first public appearance today since apologizing last week for wearing blackface during a racist skit when she was a student at Auburn University in 1967, an incident the governor says she does not remember.

The governor spoke to reporters this morning after a ceremony about the state’s bicentennial at the Archives and History building in Montgomery.
Associated Press reporter Kim Chandler prefaced the first question by saying that Ivey had told her last spring that she had never worn blackface. Today, Chandler asked Ivey today what she remembered and her reaction to the revelation about the skit.
“I was shocked to hear the tape,” Ivey said. “I didn’t remember being at the Baptist Student Union for any kind of skit like that for sure. But I’ve apologized for it. I should not have done that. And I know it’s important to apologize to the people of Alabama. And since I took office in 2017, my goal has been to make Alabama as good as it can be and certainly better, or to leave the state better than when I found it.”
On Thursday, Ivey’s office released a statement and a video apologizing for the skit at the Baptist Student Union, which came to light while Auburn University was converting archived records to digital format, including a 1967 interview on the Auburn student radio station during which Ivey and her then-fiance talked and laughed about the skit.
The Alabama NAACP and two African American lawmakers – Reps. Juandalynn Givan and John Rogers of Birmingham – called on Ivey to resign because of the incident. Others said they were disappointed but accepted Ivey’s apology and said they hoped it could bring attention to improving race relations and issues important to African Americans.
“Governor Ivey wants us to look at the record,” Bernard Simelton, President of the State of Alabama NAACP said, “Here it is. During Governor Ivey’s administration, she refused to Expand Medicaid, did not support Birmingham increase in minimum wage; Governor Ivey even signed a bill approving the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017. A law that upholds racism and the effects of racism. If you want to heal the land, or correct errors, or even make right the wrongs, you have the power to do that. You are the leader who can do away with the status quo, and you are in a key position to leave a legacy that heals the hearts of Southerners who got slavery and the confederacy wrong, heal Alabamians and lead Americans. We are better than honoring those who led us into darkness, calamity and shame. No, we don’t need to erase our history, but we do need to make right, what was done wrong.”
The issues mentioned in the press release have divided black and white politicians in Alabama for several years.
Democratic lawmakers have called for Medicaid expansion since it became available under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Ivey has not supported expansion, nor has the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Ivey’s office issued a statement last week indicating she has no intention of resigning. Ivey was asked today about her response to the calls for resignation.
“Heavens no, I’m not going to resign,” the governor said. “That was something that happened 52 years ago and I’m not that person. And my administration stands on being inclusive and helping people. We’ve got a lot of good things going on with our rebuild Alabama and broadband access being expanded and improving our education, etc. So, no, I’m full speed ahead.”
Ivey said she had heard positive comments since her apology.“Not only from African-Americans, I’ve heard a lot from them as well, but also most of the comments I’ve had have been very encouraging and very supportive and very understanding,” Ivey said. “And I’m grateful for that support and that understanding. It was a mistake when I was a student in college and I do apologize. And I’m grateful for everybody’s support, including African Americans.”

Newswire : Leader in women’s issues to head U. N. AIDS program

Winnie Karagwa Byanyima

Aug. 26, 2019 (GIN) – The U.N’s office on AIDS has named a longtime activist on women’s issues to head the global health agency.

Ugandan humanitarian Winnie Karagwa Byanyima’s career began as a member of parliament in the National Assembly of Uganda. She became the Director of Women and Development at the African Union Commission and worked on the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa.

“I am honored to be joining UNAIDS as the Executive Director at such a critical time in the response to HIV,” said Ms Byanyima. “The end of AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 is a goal that is within the world’s reach, but I do not underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead. Working with all its partners, UNAIDS must continue to speak up for the people left behind and champion human rights as the only way to end the epidemic.”

Ms Byanyima, who also headed the development group Oxfam International, is the first woman Executive Director to lead the agency since its launch in 1996..

She succeeds Michel Sidibйwho was appointed Minister of Health and Social Affairs of Mali.

Dr. Penninah Iutung, Africa Bureau Chief of the AIDS Health Foundation, said: “With young women and girls being disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, particularly in Africa, a strong UNAIDS leader can inspire them to pursue their dreams and stay healthy. We are excited and look forward to working with a new and transforming UNAIDS.”

Ms. Byanyima is married to Kizza Besigye, a Ugandan opposition leader for many years.

FREE Alabama Photo Voter ID Card available on September 4

Do you need a free Alabma photo Voter Id Card? Join us at the following location on September 4, 2019 at Greene County High School 14221 US-11 South Eutaw, AL 35462 from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. Voter registration forms will be available to register to vote an update voter information.
To qualify for a free photo voter ID:
*Must be a registered voter in Alabama at current address
*Must NOT already possess valid photo idenficaiton acceptable for voting
*Must provide identication such as:
*Non valid Photo ID (expired license, students or emplyoyee ID, etc.
The following must contain full legal name and date of birth

  • Birth Certificate
  • Medicare or Mediciad document.
    *Marriage Record
    *Millitary Recond,
     *Offical School Record or Transcript.
  • Social Security Adminstration Document.
    *State or Federal Census record
    *Hospital or Nursing Home record
    *Certificate of Citizenship.
    Sponorsed by the of office of the Secretary of State, John H. Merrill.
    For information contact 800-274-8683 or visit www.alabamavoters.gov

Newswire: Fires engulfing west Africa exceed those of Brazil

Map of the World showing fire zones

Aug. 26, 2019 (GIN) – While all eyes are on the fast-moving flames in the Brazilian Amazon, satellite data is showing a record 6,902 blazes in Angola in the past 48 hours.

Brazil is actually third in the world in wildfires over the last 48 hours, according to satellite data analyzed by Weather Source.

Angola’s fires compare to 3,395 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and 2,127 in Brazil. It’s not an uncommon phenomenon for Central Africa.

According to NASA, which operates the Aqua satellite, over 67,000 fires were reported in a one-week period in June last year, as farmers employed slash and burn agriculture to clear land for crops.

Zambia placed fourth on the list in the last 48 hours, while Brazil’s neighbor in the Amazon, Bolivia, placed sixth.

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the leaders of the G7 – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – would release $22 million to help fight fires in the Amazon rainforest.

“The forest is also burning in sub-Saharan Africa” he tweeted and added that he was “considering the possibility of launching a similar initiative” in sub-Saharan African.

The Congo Basin forest is commonly referred to as the “second green lung” of the planet after the Amazon.

The forests cover an area of 3.3 million square kilometers in several countries, including about a third in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the rest in Gabon, Congo, Cameroon and Central Africa.

Just like the Amazon, the forests of the Congo Basin absorb tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) in trees and peat marshes – seen by experts as a key way to combat climate change. They are also sanctuaries for endangered species.

But these fires may not compare with those of Brazil, some experts say. “Fire is quite a regular thing in Africa. It’s part of a cycle, people in the dry season set fire to bush rather than to dense, moist rainforest,” said Philippe Verbelen, a Greenpeace forest campaigner working on the Congo Basin,

Guillaume Lescuyer, a central African expert at the French agricultural research and development centre CIRAD, also said the fires seen in NASA images were mostly burning outside the rainforest.

Newswire: Reframing the history of slavery in Angola and the US

Slavery museum in Angola

Aug. 26, 2019 (GIN) – If the U.S. has 35,000 museums, a writer asked in 2014, why is only one about slavery? And if the wealth of this country was built on the backs of enslaved people from Africa, why has that story been vastly under-reported in our media, in our schools and in our political discourse?

The first question was asked by John J. Cummings III, a retired lawyer who redeveloped the Whitney Plantation in New Orleans as a memorial. The second question is being examined today by writers, artists, and citizens from perspectives running right to left.

More than half a dozen museums in the U.S. today are devoted to the story of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, slavery and the complicity of the North. Since the emergence this month of a New York Times feature – the 1619 project – articles, essays, and performance pieces are also exploring and debating the subject.

“The 1619 Project is a major initiative observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are,” the piece begins.

Similarly, in the southwest African nation of Angola, an exhibition about the slavers who sent hundreds of thousands of Africans to a bitter life of hard labor is drawing visitors by the hundreds.

The slavery museum is in Morro da Cruz, far from the hustle and bustle of Luanda, the capital city. Its quiet presence belies its dark past. Founded in 1977 by the National Institute of Cultural Patrimony, its objective was to depict the history of slavery in Angola.

The building is located in the former property of Бlvaro de Carvalho Matoso, one of the largest slave-traders on the African coast in the first half of the 18th Century. Matoso died in 1798, and his family and heirs continued in the slave-trade until 1836, when a decree by Maria II of Portugal prohibited the export of slaves from the Portuguese empire.

The structure adjoins the 17th century Capela da Casa Grande where slaves were baptized and given Christian names before being put on slave ships for transport to the Americas.

Most of the city’s African population was enslaved. Although Portugal abolished slavery in Angola in 1878, forced labor within Angola continued well into the twentieth century.

“We learned our history from books written by the Portuguese,” acknowledged writer Mayra de Lassalette, “and these books never hinted at the difficulties, the resistance, the frustrated efforts to rebel against slavery or the impact it had on the country.”

“Angola’s past depended on oral tradition – very common in Africa. But the tradition comes with a risk, because history belongs to the one who tells it.”

“Slavery was a bad thing,” a young girl told me, said Mayra. “We Africans don’t like to remember bad things.”

“And we Angolans suffer many of them,” added the writer, “from slavery to colonization and civil war.”

Another initiative by UNESCO is the online Slave Route Project whose aim is to “remedy the general ignorance on the history of Africa by reconstructing it – and re-reading the history through purely African perspectives or more objective views of scientists or researchers.”

Newswire : France gifted the Statue of Liberty to America in 1886 to celebrate the end of slavery

by BlackmansStreet.Today

Statue of Liberty

On August 20, 1619, the first Black slaves were dragged in chains to America

Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, wants to change Emma Lazarus’s sonnet that begins with “Give Me Your Tired and Poor”… that is inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty to something less welcoming to the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Lazarus’ sonnet, which was added in 1903, completely changed the reason France gifted the State of Liberty to the United States.

France gave the Statue of Liberty to United States to celebrate the end of slavery, according to Ed Berenson, a professor at New York University and author of “The Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story.”

Edouard de Laboulaye, a French abolitionist and president of the French Anti-Slavery Society, is the undisputed “Father of the Statue of Liberty.” After the end of the Civil War, de Laboulaye came up with an idea for a gift to the United States to honor President Abraham Lincoln and to celebrate the abolition of slavery.

De Laboulaye hired sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi who took an unused design and more than 20 years to craft the Statue of Liberty. The 305-foot statute was dedicated in 1886 on Liberty Island in New York Harbor.

The Statue of Liberty wasn’t well received by Black leaders because Reconstruction had ended in 1877, ushering a new form of slavery with Jim Crow laws and segregation.

Lazarus, a poet, wrote “The New Colossus” a poem to raise money for construction of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. In 1903, the poem was caste onto a bronze plaque and mounted inside the pedestal’s lower level.

Lazarus, an advocate for Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in Russia that was unheaval, wrote the words that completely changed the intent of the Statue of Liberty. Cuccinelli wants to change Lazarus’s sonnet even more “to give us your tired and poor who can stand on their own two feet”

On August 20, 1669, 400 years ago, 20 Black slaves were brought in chains to the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia. Slavery did not end in America until December 6, 1865, although President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves living in states that seceded from the Union.