Annual Christmas Parade features floats, bands, horseback riders and decorative town square

Judge Julia Spree served as Grand  Marshall for the 2018 Christmas Parade

Thursday, December 6, 2018 marked the annual Greene County Christmas Parade sponsored by the Eutaw Area Chamber of Commerce. Probate Judge Julia Spree served as Grand Marshall. This year’s theme: All Hearts United for Christmas. Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.
The Old Courthouse Square in the center of town was creatively adorned in Christmas and holiday decor letting you know Christmas is right around the corner.
Other local officials participating in the parade, local businesses and organizations sponsoring floats included: Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison leading the parade; GCHS JROTC; Miss Homecoming, Miss and Mr. GCHS and court; the GCHS Marching Band; Eutaw City Councilwoman Latasha Johnson, Town of Boligee Councilwomen; Christian Lighthouse School; Debutantes sponsored by Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; the Volunteer Fire Departments of Mantua-Lewiston and Tishabee, Boligee as well as the Eutaw City Fire Department; New Generation Church. The horse riders closed out the parade.
The winners of the contest for best Store Front decoration are as follow: 1st Place – Banks & Company; 2nd Place – Eutaw City Hall; 3rd Place – Spiller’s Furniture Company. Child Choice Award was awarded to the Greene County Sheriff Department.
Float Winners include 1st Place – Christian Light House; 2nd Place – Merchant & Farmers Bank; 3rd Place – Town of Boligee. Honorable Mention- Eutaw Primary.
Following the lighting of the Christmas tree, Eutaw Primary students sang several Christmas Carols on the square as proud parents looked on.
Ms. Beverly Gordon, President of the Eutaw Area Chamber of Commerce, along with a committee of Chamber members and other volunteers organized the Christmas Parade and related events. Numerous businesses decorated their store fronts lifting that old saying: Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

SOS youth leaders and others call for boycott of all Hoover businesses until Hoover officials release full videotape and charge off-duty police officer for killing innocent Army Veteran E.J. Bradford

SOS Members and supporters at Montgomery press conference calling for boycott of Galleria Mall. Frank Matthews at podium. L. to R. Jeffrey Jones, Clarence Muhammad, Gus Townes and Alecha Irby
Family of man killed by Hoover Police after Galleria shooting speak, demand answers

Montgomery, AL – SOS youth leaders along with other youth leaders from across the state and other leaders held a news conference at the Alabama State House at 10:30 a.m. today calling for continued protests and a boycott of ALL Hoover businesses until Hoover city officials release the complete videotape of the killing of Army Veteran E.J. Bradford and criminally charge the off-duty Hoover police officer with killing Bradford.
Alecha Irby, head of the Youth Committee for the Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy and a student at Miles Law School, organized the Montgomery press conference to draw greater attention to the ongoing injustices taking place in Jefferson County. Irby said, “Twenty-one-year-old E.J. Bradford was shot and killed at the Galleria on November 22nd, and the Hoover police still have not released the full video of the killing. They have selectively chosen to release a 30-second snippet of the video, but their refusal to release the entire footage is more telling than the tiny segment they did release.”
An off-duty Hoover police officer shot and killed an innocent Army veteran. Hoover officials continue to refuse to release the full video and other critical information. Autopsy details revealed that Mr. Bradford was shot multiple times in the back and in the back of the head. “Officials in Hoover have not taken the first step to arrest the officer for this wrongful killing. Until they release the full tape and arrest the officer for the killing of Mr. Bradford, we are calling on everyone to boycott all businesses in Hoover.”

“Hoover officials have had the opportunity to do what is right and to seek justice for the family of Mr. Bradford. They continue to refuse to do so,” said Carlos Chaverst, Jr., who organized protests in Hoover in the aftermath of the brutal killing of E.J. Bradford. “Nineteen days have passed since the Hoover officer shot and killed Mr. Bradford, and the killer still walks free. We also do not have the full video footage of what took place at the Galleria, and officials have given no justifiable reason for not releasing that footage. We are here today to demand justice for E.J. Bradford, and we will not stop until justice is done,” he said.
“We are calling on a boycott of all Hoover businesses – not only those at the Galleria – until Hoover officials do what is right and just and release the entire video footage and other records related to the case and charge the officer with killing E.J. Bradford. Alabama has been witness to racial injustices throughout its history, and what is taking place in Hoover today is a new Civil Rights Movement,” said Frank Matthews of the Outcast Voters League.
“Some commentators have said just this week that these protests are taking place ‘before anybody really outside of witnesses and law enforcement knows what happened’ and have cited the 30-second video release as if it were a concrete action. If the police would release the full video and other necessary information including witness statements to the public, the police officer who killed Bradford would already be arrested and in custody and the protests and boycott could end. Observations like the one by an Alabama commentator I just referenced only serve to reinforce how little is being done to ensure the right actions are taken and justice is served.”

County Commission supports Northfolk’s sale of land to WestRock

At its regular meeting held Monday Dec. 10, 2018, the Greene County Commission approved a resolution supporting Northfolk Southern Railroad’s sale of property to WestRock (box plant). As discussed in the previous commission work session, Northfolk Southern offered the county first option to purchase a 350 ft. parcel of land near the railroad. As indicated in the resolution, the commission declined the offer and gave support of the land sale to West Rock at a cost of $18,850. This parcel is also adjacent to the approximate 2.75 acres West Rock purchased recently from the county.
In other business the commission took action on the following:

  • Approved a retail beer license for TJ & J Grocery and Deli in Clinton.
  • Approved the contract with Means Construction for a storm shelter pad in Forkland.
  • Approved the extension of the county’s garbage exemption until January 18, 2019.
  • Approved travel for engineer and assistant engineer to training in Prattville, AL, Jan.30-31, 2019.
    Authorized Chairman Smith to execute papers with Goodwin & Mills for preliminary engineering work on County Road 69.
    Approved the county engineer’s demolition of the old daycare center in Forkland.
    In the financial report, CFO Paula Bird presented the following bank balances as of November 18, 2018: Citizen Trust Bank, $2,413,982.41; Merchant & Farmers Bank, $2,375,492.14; Bank of New York, $359,378.56; Total CD Bond Sinking Funds, $923,021.52.
    The commission approved finance report, payment of claims and budget amendments.
    Having no further business, the meeting was adjourned.

Newswre : African activists demand action at World Climate Confab in Poland

African negotiators at Climate conference

Dec. 10, 2018 (GIN) – Dorothy Nalubega was far from home but close enough to the U.N. climate summit in Katowice, Poland, to give the 200 world delegates in attendance an earful of her views on climate change.

Nalubega was among thousands of protestors at the climate conference – the third such meeting since nations adopted the Paris climate agreement in 2015 when it seemed that developed and developing countries would share a path toward cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Nalubega, an activist from Uganda and a member of Global Greens, was among the crowds marching down the cold Polish streets, shouting “Wake Up!”, “Keep the Coal in the Hole” and other messages. Protestors were allowed only one day to march at the site of the 2-week long annual confab amid a heavy police presence.

Nalubega said greed was the cause of Africa’s environmental devastation – from industrial-scale sand mining degrading the Lake Victoria ecosystem to the vanishing Mabira forest, logged excessively by sugar cane planters. “So we are here today to tell our leaders to stop the greed and think about the generation to come.”

Makoma Lekalakala from Earthlife Africa said she was marching “to amplify voices of poor people all over the world demanding climate justice. We have no more time. This is time to act.”

Lekalakala, this year’s co-winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize was protesting nuclear power. It’s not a solution to climate change, she pointed out, and it should not even be considered.

In a year which saw record weather extremes and an extraordinary announcement from the UN that we have only 12 years to limit catastrophe, the need for meaningful progress has never been greater.

“We aren’t facing the end of the world… but if we do nothing to mitigate climate change then billions of people will suffer,” said Mark Maslin, professor of Earth System Science, University College London.

Patriciah Roy Akullo from ACT Alliance Uganda Forum said she was marching for action now. “We are having long droughts and flooding so the communities cannot grow crops. Children are not going to school because there’s no food at school. Their parents cannot afford school fees, because they don’t have crops to sell and raise money for their family. So the impact is quite grave.

“It’s not fair. It’s not climate justice. So that’s why the ACT Alliance is saying we want action now. Act now for climate justice.“

Newswire :Supreme Court hears important civil forfeiture case

graphic of civil forfeiture
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
The Supreme Court last week considered limiting the practice of civil forfeiture, which law enforcement has used since the War on Drugs mostly against African-Americans, Hispanics and those in poor communities.
At the heart of arguments in the nation’s highest court are two questionable forfeitures.
The first occurred in October of 2016.
Alexander Temple, a Maine resident, was pulled over on Interstate 95 in New Hampshire for a routine traffic stop. Police in that state seized $46,000 from Temple, claiming they felt it would be used for illegal activity.
Even Though Temple was released without ever facing a single criminal charge, the police kept the cash.
The second is Tyson Timbs, a recovering opioid addict from Indiana who pled guilty to dealing drugs in 2013. After he was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay a fine, the state seized his $42,000 Land Rover in an act of civil forfeiture.
That despite the fact that Timbs proved that the funds he used to purchase the SUV were not from drug sales, but from a life insurance policy he received from his father.
“I’m feeling very good,” Timbs told ABC News as he entered the High Court last week. “This has been a very difference experience for me with so much attention.”
Timbs attorney Wesley Hottot argued the seizure of the Land Rover violated the 8th Amendment’s protection against excessive fines, a Constitutional guarantee that should be upheld in all states.
A majority of the justices reportedly seemed receptive to the idea. And, if they at least limit the practice of civil forfeiture, many a minority could regain previously lost property.
Civil asset forfeiture is the ability of authorities to seize private property used in a crime. However, most legal experts agree that the practice has enriched states and law enforcement and usually the forfeitures occur without a court hearing.
In the 26 states and District of Columbia that report forfeiture activity, law enforcement agencies collected more than $254 million in funds and property in 2012 alone, according to an analysis by the Institute for Justice, a non-profit libertarian public interest law firm.
“This is an incredibly important case,” said Christopher Riano, lecturer in constitutional law and government at Columbia University, told ABC News “Historically, whenever the court takes these types of cases, the court does usually move to incorporate the federal guarantees against the states.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center reported that, since the advent of the War on Drugs, law enforcement agencies have used civil asset forfeiture laws to strip Americans of billions of dollars in cash, cars, real estate, and other assets.
Under these state and federal laws, officers are legally empowered to seize property they believe is connected to criminal activity – even if the owner is never charged with a crime.
In most states, the agencies are entitled to keep the property or, more typically, the proceeds from its sale.
An analysis by the Southern Poverty Law Centerfound that while federal forfeitures totaled $93.7 million in 1986, this revenue grew by more than 4,600 percent – to $4.5 billion a year – by 2014. Forfeitures handled by states have also poured millions, perhaps billions, of dollars into law enforcement agencies.

As a result, there has been a massive transfer of wealth and assets from American citizens – and especially the most economically vulnerable – to police, who can largely use the funds however they see fit, the SPLC reported.
Many states do not even require local agencies to track or report seized property. In civil forfeiture cases, as many as 80 percent of people who have their assets seized are never charged with a crime.
In most state and federal courts, the government is only required to show there is a preponderance of evidence – more likely than not – that the property abetted a criminal act.
Homes have been seized from owners whose children or grandchildren were accused of committing drug crimes, even though the owners themselves were never implicated.
In one money-laundering case in Florida, SPLC officials noted that law enforcement seized approximately $49 million but did not bring a single indictment.
The drug war has unduly harmed racial minorities, and its civil forfeiture provisions are no different, according to the SPCL.
Because of racial profiling, Black and Hispanic motorists are disproportionately searched and put at risk of having their cash assets seized, even though Black and white drivers are equally likely to be found with narcotics.
A 1993 investigation by The Orlando Sentinel revealed that nine of every 10 motorists who were stopped and stripped of their cash by police in Volusia County, Florida, were either Black or Hispanic, and three out of four were never charged with a crime.

In Philadelphia, where nearly 300 houses are seized annually,African Americans make up 44 percent of the population but 63 percent of house seizures and 71 percent of cash forfeitures unaccompanied by a conviction, according to the SPLC.

Forfeiture is also most likely to affect economically disadvantaged communities: One study found that areas with high income inequality were targeted for civil forfeiture operations, likely because these police departments have limited funding and are inclined to use forfeiture to secure needed revenue.
The profile of suspects who have their assets seized, a researcher observed, “differ greatly from those of the drug lords, for whom asset forfeiture strategies were designed.”
, as the Supreme Court considers the law, many like Temple and Timbs wait with great anticipation. “For ordinary citizens, the real-world consequences can be devastating,” Timbs’ attorney argued in a brief to the Supreme Court.
“The Excessive Fines Clause secures a single, unitary right: freedom from excessive economic sanctions that are at least partly punitive.“To be sure, that right can be violated in countless ways, using countless tools; in this regard, governments are endlessly innovative, ‘with more and more civil laws bearing more and more extravagant punishments.’”

Newswire: Detroit NAACP slams Michigan Republicans for trying to limit Democrats power

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent

Dr. Wendell Anthony, President of the Detroit NAACP
Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony isn’t taking the latest efforts by the outgoing Republican administration in Michigan sitting down. Anthony, who’s president of the NAACP in Detroit – the Civil Rights organization’s largest branch – is leading an effort to stop several bills proposed by lame duck Republicans who lost the midterm elections.
Anthony said the actions taken by the GOP-led legislature are “more crooked than the great train robberies committed by Jesse and Frank James in the Missouri territories.”
“The only thing the legislature in Michigan lacks is a face mask and a six-shooter,” Anthony said. The outspoken Anthony listed seven bills as troublesome:
· Senate Bills 1238-1240 undercuts the Promote the Vote proposal.
· Senate Bill 1254 undercuts the anti-gerrymandering proposal.
· Senate Bill 1252 shifts the oversight of campaign finance law from the incoming Secretary of State.
· House Bill 6553 would allow the Michigan House of Representatives and the Senate to interfere with legal proceedings involving the state (traditionally the responsibility of the state Attorney General or the Governor’s office).
· Senate Bill 1175 would change the way employers provide paid sick time and the number of employers exempted by various business entities.
· Senate Bill 1171 would gut the minimum wage initiative, a measure that would assure the minimum wage would rise according to inflation. “Rogue lawmakers are already trashing the one fair minimum-wage agreement, fought for by workers across the state,” Anthony said.
· Senate Bill 1182 would change the way law suits and civil actions should be awarded to both the attorneys representing the plaintiffs and the defendants. “It is designed to discourage citizens and organizations filing civil actions against various injustices,” he said.
Anthony told NNPA Newswire that the actions are “a treacherous mean-spirited, underhanded and deceptive Republican theft of what should be a democratic process.”
“They have not gotten the memo that we won the election and they are mad, and they are upset and trying to offset the result of the election by setting themselves up to maintain power before the Democratic administration can come in,” Anthony said.
Together the proposals, which would still require the signature of outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, would essentially take away or greatly diminish the power from Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State-elect Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel.
`The GOP-sponsored bills came within hours of similar efforts in Wisconsin, where lawmakers voted earlier to shift clout to the Republican-controlled Legislature and weaken the Democrat replacing the GOP governor.
In January, Michigan Democrats will jointly hold the governor, attorney general and secretary offices for the first time in 28 years, but the Legislature will continue to be controlled by Republicans.
A day after GOP lawmakers finalized an unprecedented maneuver to gut minimum wage and paid sick leave laws, a Senate panel passed legislation that would create the Fair Political Practices Commission to enforce the campaign-finance law rather than Benson, who ran in part on a pledge to advocate for election transparency.
Democrats called the bill a blatant power grab that would fly in the face of voters, according to NBC News. “At no point did voters say they wanted the rules manipulated. At no point did they say they wanted bills rushed through a hasty lame-duck session,” Patrick Schuh, state director for the liberal group America Votes, told NBC News.
He, like Anthony and others, questioned the timing, saying such a commission was not proposed until a Democrat is on the verge of leading the secretary of state office for the first time in two-dozen years.
Chief among the many proposals rankling Democrats and voters alike is a proposal that requires a legislative committee rather than the Attorney General to sign off on withdrawing from federal lawsuits, now sits on the table.
In Wisconsin, it would also give the legislature oversight over Governor-Elect Tony Evers, potentially preventing him from seeking waivers for health care. Outgoing governor Scott Walker is even backing away from his promise to ensure coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, made during the height of the recent election.
“He is hiding behind a political mask of a lawsuit filed this past February which attempts to declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional,” Anthony said.
Two years ago, several similar measures were declared unconstitutional in the state of North Carolina. One measure in particular was the 2016 ruling by the federal courts that ended the practice of gerrymandering in the state. Judge James A. Wynn of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit Court indicated, “When maps are gerrymandered, the government no longer reflects the will of the people.”
The resolution to these issues in Michigan, Wisconsin, and North Carolina is very simple, Anthony continued. “Respect the will of the people. Get better policies and you will win more voters. Don’t try to steal it, after you have lost it,” he said.
“Now is the time to be encouraged. We must not step back. We must all step up. Governor Rick Snyder, please don’t go off into the pages of history having turned back the page on Michigan democracy,” Anthony said.
“When these bills arrive on your desk, remember the words of the former First Lady Nancy Reagan, and ‘Just say No.’ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. The time is always right to do what is right.’ We shall not be silent because the time is always right, to do what is right, to preserve and protect our democracy,” he said.

Hundreds attend celebration of Senator Hank Sanders 35 years of service in Alabama Legislature

More than 300 people from around the state attended a program on

Passing the Torch Ceremony L to R are: Attorney Faya Rose Toure, Attorney Malika Sanders Fortier, Senator Hank Sanders, Askhari Little and Attorney Ainka Sanders Jackson

Saturday, November 17, 2018, to celebrate and honor the 35 years of service by Senator Hank Sanders in the Alabama State Legislature. The program was held at the Wallace Community College in Selma, Alabama.
Sixty speakers, dancers, poets, musicians and others spoke and offered tributes on the program which culminated in a ceremony passing the torch of leadership from Hank to his daughter, Maliki Sanders Fortier. She was elected as Senator from the 23rd District of Alabama, comprising ten counties surrounding Selma, in the Alabama Black Belt, in the November 6th General Election, to succeed her father.

Carol P. Zippert, School Board member from Greene County and Co-Publisher of the Greene County Democrat gave the occasion for the program. She said the program was, “ to honor Senator Hank Sanders as a spiritual soldier for justice, visionary and institution builder in the Alabama Black Belt.”
A number of Hank’s colleagues from the Legislature came and gave tributes to Hank’s ability, friendship and moving the state, not just Black people, but the state as a whole, forward in a more just and equitable way.
Former Lieutenant Governor George McMillan praised Hank for his struggles as a young man, which led him to be more concerned about the welfare of others than himself. He said Hank lived by the dictum, his mother taught him, “Take what you have, To make what you need”. He lives his life asking people, “to turn to each other and not on each other.
Jimmy Baker, a former State Finance Director, Senator Little, Senator Lowell Barron, Senator Roger Bedford and others called Senator Hank Sanders a champion of public education, dedicated to an equitable funding of public education which helped poor rural counties Black and white in the state. All said that they were honored and humbled to work with Hank and that they learned a lot from him in all of their interactions with him both political and personal.
Senators Roger Smitherman and Linda Coleman of Birmingham, two African-American colleagues praised Hank for welcoming them in the Legislature and helping them to learn the process in Montgomery of how to pass legislation. Smitherman said, “ I want to do everything I can to help Malika Fortier when she joins us in the Senate.”
Former Commissioner of Agriculture Ron Sparks said that Hank Sanders was always, “Honest and courageous; a man of vision and hope. I traveled the world with Hank and Rose, to India, Cuba and other places and it was always a great experience, especially learning other people and cultures.”
Many local African-American officials including Congresswoman Terri Sewell, School Superintendents and Board members, County Commissioners recognized Senator Hank Sanders for guiding and advising them on difficult decisions and situations that helped them in their careers and personal lives.
Joe Reed, leader of the Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) said that he and Hank did not agree on all things but that he knew that “Hank never forgot who the real enemy was of the people of Alabama – poverty and injustice – so they could often work together to fight the real enemies of the people of Alabama.”
David White, a former reporter for the Birmingham News and now an aide to Governor Kay Ivey praised Hank Sanders for his persistence and raising important issues like the Moratorium on the Death Penalty, which even though not enacted raised aw3areness and consciousness on important issues.

John Zippert, Co Publisher of the Greene County Democrat recognized Hank Sanders for his work on the Pigford Class Action lawsuits for Black farmers; his work with the Alabama New South Coalition and for writing a weekly column, Senate Sketches, for more than 30 years. “ I am proud to say the Greene County Democrat has published each of the 1,640 weekly columns and we will continue publishing his column although it will now be called Sketches, since the author has retired from the Alabama State Senate.”
Members of the Senator’s family including siblings, wife Faya Rose, his children and grandchildren also gave various tributes.

At the end of the program there was a ceremony of passing the torch of leadership and responsibility to the community from Senator Hank Sanders to his daughter, Malika Sanders Fortier. The ceremony was symbolical of the transfer of Hank Sanders duties and role in the Alabama Legislature to his successor.

Greene County Deltas observe World Aids Day; Commission Chairperson signs Proclamation


Observing the signing of the World Aids Day Proclamation for Greene County by Commission Chairperson Tennyson Smith are L to R seated: Nancy Cole and Isaac Atkins. Standing L to R: Johnni Strode Morning, Andrea Perry, Alfretta Crawford and Carol P. Zippert.

The Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., in conjunction with the Greene County Commission, observed World Aids Day in Greene County, December 1, 2018. In its meeting held Monday, November 26, 2018, the Commission approved the proposed proclamation and proclaimed Dec. 1 as World Aids Day. The official signing was held Friday, November 30, 2018. World Aids Day began 30 years ago on December 1, 1988, when the world health ministers called for a spirit of social tolerance and greater awareness of HIV Internationally. World Aids Day continues to be an important way to celebrate the extraordinary advances we have made in the battle against HIV and to remind Greene County residents and people everywhere that HIV has not gone away. In keeping with the 2018 World Aids Day theme Know Your Status members of the Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. encourage those living with HIV to ensure that they are linked to quality care and prevention services.

Newswire:  U.S. Senate’s only Black Republican blocks Tom Farr from becoming a Federal judge

 By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Correspondent

Senator Tim Scott

On November 29, the U.S. Senate’s only African American Republican Senator, Tim Scott, announced he would oppose the nomination of Thomas Farr to a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. Scott’s blockbuster decision ended the chance of Farr’s nomination being confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Scott cited, “lingering concerns” on “issues that could affect [Farr’s] decision-making process as a federal judge.” “This week, a Department of Justice memo written under President George H.W. Bush was released that shed new light on Mr. Farr’s activities. This, in turn, created more concerns. Weighing these important factors, this afternoon I concluded that I could not support Mr. Farr’s nomination,” said Scott. The decision marked the second time Scott has blocked a Trump nominee to the federal bench. “Thomas Farr was the most polarizing, dangerous and biased nominee that we have seen put forth by President Trump. We applaud Senator Tim Scott for exercising independence in the examination of Farr’s disturbing record; a record influenced by the modern white supremacist machine that former North Carolina senator Jesse Helms pioneered, and one that demonstrated bias and a commitment to defending voter suppression efforts at every turn,” stated Kristen Clarke, President of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Farr was the primary coordinator of the 1984 ‘ballot security’ program conducted by the 1984 Helms for Senate Committee. He coordinated several ‘ballot security’ activities in 1984, including a postcard mailing to voters in predominantly black precincts which was designed to serve as a basis to challenge voters on election day. Footnote 7, DOJ Memo, June 19, 1991. This revelation is singularly disqualifying,” wrote NAACP President Derrick Johnson. Sen. Scott’s decision was a dramatic one. A day before on November 28, he was nowhere to be found shortly before a vote to continue debate on the Farr nomination. Other Senators, as well as reporters, searched for Scott near the Senate floor before that procedural vote. Many assumed his support of moving the debate to a final vote meant he would support Farr’s nomination. That assumption was incorrect. Sen. Scott was joined by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in wondering out loud about whether Farr should be on the federal bench. But Sen. Scott was the only one to announce he would vote against Farr on the floor.

Newswire:  Two Black men elected to top leadership positions in Congress

By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet.Today


James Clyburn and Hakeem Jeffries

For the first time ever, two African Americans will hold top leadership positions at the same time in Congress, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, recently announced. U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, was elected chair of the Democratic Caucus, and Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, was elected Majority Whip, the third most-powerful party member. Clyburn also is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Rep. Jeffries defeated Rep. Barbara Lee for this position by a vote of 123-113, which surprised some Congressional observers. Fellow California Rep. Jackie Speier indicated she believed that ageism and sexism played a role in Barbara Lee’s defeat. Saying members should have the “courage” to vote in a public way in House leadership races. Currently, the votes are taken by secret ballot. “There’s this game that some of my colleagues play where they say one thing to one member and then say something else to another member,” Speier said. Many viewed the defeat of Lee over Jeffries as a triumph of monied interests over progressive values. Though Tom Watson, founder of CauseWired, pointed out on Twitter that Jeffries voting record is just as progressive as Lee’s. In a gracious statement, Congresswoman Lee said, “I want to congratulate Congressman Hakeem Jeffries on a hard-fought race. I look forward to working with him to advance a progressive, inclusive agenda for the American people. While I didn’t win today, I hope my candidacy will inspire other women, and women of color in particular, to run for elected office and seek leadership positions. Our Caucus can only succeed when every voice is represented in leadership. “When the Congressional Black Caucus was founded in 1971, I know our 13 founding members dreamed of the day we would have more than one member in our ranks competing for top leadership positions in Congress. Today is that day, and I know they are proud,” Richmond said. The majority whip is a member of the dominant political party whose job is to keep voting members in line with the party’s ideology and goals. The majority whip ensures attendance at all important votes and legislative sessions. The 78-year-old Clyburn, who represents South Carolina’s 6th District, has been a member of Congress since 1993. Clyburn, who also was majority whip from 2007 to 2011, has been criticized for accepting millions of dollars from the pharmaceutical industry over the past decade. Clyburn has received more money from drug maker PACs over the past decade than any other member of Congress—more than $1.09 million. During the 2018 election cycle, Clyburn received at least $170,000. In 2013, he was the featured speaker at a conference hosted by PhRMA, the industry’s leading trade group, according to Kaiser Health News. The conference was held at the James E. Clyburn Research Center at the Medical University of South Carolina, a hub of biopharmaceutical research. Kaiser Health News reported that voters complained about soaring prescription drug prices during the 2018 election campaign, and Democrats claimed they would do something about them in the next Congress. Nancy Pelosi, the incoming House Majority Leader, has received nearly $193,000 from drug maker PACs (political action committees). And Pelosi’s number two, U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, has accepted $1.02 million from drug maker PACs since 2007. Hoyer received $128,000 from drug maker PACS during the recent election cycle. Prescription drug expenditures are nearly 20 percent of health care costs, and prescription spending is growing faster than any other part of the health care dollar. Spending on prescription drugs increased 13.1 percent in 2014—the largest annual increase since 2003. This uptick was largely driven by an unprecedented 30.9 percent increase in spending on specialty medications. In 2015, spending rose another 12.2 percent, according to theCampaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing. The chair of the Democratic Caucus makes sure party members achieve a consensus and achieve their goals. The 48-year-old Jefferies has been a member of Congress since 2013. He represents the 8th Congressional District, which includes Brooklyn and Queens, New York.