Disagreement about Eutaw Water System erupts again at City Council meeting

By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

The Eutaw City Council held its regular meeting on Tuesday evening at 6:00 PM at the Carver School gymnasium. The Council and the audience had on masks and were socially distanced.
The Council was breezing along passing routine business items when LaJeffrey Carpenter offered a motion for “an emergency audit of all City Departments” which was seconded and supported by Sheila Smith. The discussion on this motion re-opened the controversy on the Mayor’s handling of the City’s water system.
Mayor Steele said he had contracted for an audit with a CPA in Tuscaloosa. “This person, whose name I do not recall, is 90% complete with the audit of the City’s finances for 2019.
We have not paid him yet. Gardner, a former accountant for the City, did a budget but the Council did not approve it,” according to Steele.
The Council voted to approve the motion for an emergency audit. Councilwoman Shelia Smith said “The Council has not received a clear financial statement from Mayor Steele in four years. The revenue deposited in the bank from the water department has been steadily declining. The Council voted in February, not to accept cash payments, to have a better and traceable record of water income but the Mayor refused to implement this policy.”
Councilwoman Latasha Johnson, who is in an October 6th runoff election with Mayor Steele, said, “Someone is spreading rumors that we are selling the city’s water system. This is not true we are trying to straighten it out and make it produce the revenues it should.”
Johnson said, “The Council voted to have Kathy Horne with Water Management Associates come to review and correct the problems in the water system, including billing. But the Mayor would not allow her and her associates to come in the City Hall last week, under threat of arrest for trespassing. The bills for water are still messed up. Residents got their bills late. Some are for two months but only have one month’s charge for garbage. Some meters are covered with dirt so how they be read? Some people are complaining about the quality of the water and others say the bills are too high.”
Mayor Steele said he stopped the people from Water Management Associates from coming to the City Water Department because the Council’s motion was illegal. “I am the Mayor and I make the day-to-day decisions. I feel your motion was illegal and should have been presented to the State’s Attorney General, for a legal opinion as to its validity. Without the opinion, which the Council would not authorize, I stopped the contract. I did not say I would arrest the people if they came into City Hall.”
Councilman Joe Lee Powell stated, “I was in the meeting, you said to Kathy Horne and Water Management Associates, that they could not come to work, under the contract we adopted and signed. The water situation and the bills are still not corrected and we are not getting the income we should.”
The Mayor then argued that the new Eutaw Water System cost too much and more grants should have been provided rather than loans from USDA Rural Development. He also said the bills were late because the cord that connects the meter reader to the computer was damaged and had to be replaced, which led to a delay in shipment through the mail. The Mayor also encouraged everyone who wanted to see the records to come to City Hall and ask to see them.
Latasha Johnson said, “the state of the water system is an election issue. We tried to correct the problems but the Mayor stood in the way of the management consultants coming in to fix the problems. He has not given us any reports for us to have confidence that the system has been corrected. Bills are late and not connected to reality. We must make a change from the top to correct this situation.”
In its regular business session, the Eutaw City Council:
• Referred a claim from Rachel Nixon to our insurance company through the City Attorney.
• Approved a liquor license for Family Dollar Store for retail sales of beer and wine, off premises; transfer of Piggly Wiggly off premises beer and wine licenses to Samuel J Hamilton LLC.
• Accepted a bid of $39,700 from Central Alabama Asphalt for paving M & M Drive.
• Approved purchase, with CARES Act funds, of LIFEPAK 15 Monitor and Defibrillator for the Greene County Emergency Management Service for use with the city’s ambulance service, to revive and monitor patients, provided sufficient funding remained in the City’s CARES Act funding allocation.

Sheriff Benison’s attorney suspended

Sheriff Benison’s attorney suspended

At press time, The Democrat learned that Attorney James Flint Liddon, Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison’s attorney has been suspended and is no longer authorized to practice law in Alabama, according to Alabama Bar Directory. More information will be forthcoming. Montgomery County Circuit records indicated that on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, Liddon withdrew as a legal representative from the case: Greenetrack, Inc et.al V Sheriff Joe Benison, et.al.

Newswire: Naomi Osaka pays tribute to Breonna Taylor during the US Open

Naomi Osaka with Breonna Taylor mask
A growing number of athletes are using their platforms to protest racial injustice and police violence.

Written By Marsha B. @introvertNthecity


It has been well over 150 days since the untimely death of Breonna Taylor.
Unfortunately, there has been zero progression in arresting the officers who shot her while she was asleep. In fact, local law enforcement is attempting to incriminate Breonna instead of bringing justice to her name.

The lawyers for Taylor’s family were reacting to the reports that local prosecutors offered Taylor’s incarcerated ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover a plea deal if he would claim she was a co-defendant in a drug case. The reported plea deal suggests that law enforcement was desperately looking for a way to incriminate Taylor and assassinate her character in death, which could prevent the case from progressing and keep the officers involved in the shooting from being arrested and charged with any crimes at all nearly six months after she was killed in her own home while sleeping.
It’s safe to say Breonna Taylor’s life isn’t valued by the U.S. justice system. Because her killers have not been arrested yet, celebrities are using their platforms to advocate for her. Oprah featured Breonna on the cover of O Magazine and a few celebrities were seen wearing “Arrest the Cops That Murdered Breonna Taylor” t-shirts. Tennis star Naomi Osaka brought awareness of Breonna Taylor’s senseless and preventable police killing to the vaunted courts of the US Open on Monday night.
Naomi donned a Breonna Taylor mask right before her match. This is one of many.
“I have seven,” Osaka told reporters, one for each match should she advance to the end of the tournament. “It’s quite sad that seven masks isn’t enough for the amount of names, so hopefully, I’ll get to the finals and you can see all of them.”
Can you imagine? If Naomi had a mask for every person killed because of police brutality, she’d have enough to last a few decades. There’s been an influx of athletes using their platform as a way to protest racial injustice. We’re proud of the way they’re stepping up to the plate. You can’t kill us and then expect us to keep you entertained.
But this is America.

Newswire: Death of Chadwick Boseman puts focus on colon cancer and African Americans

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor



The death of actor Chadwick Boseman from colon cancer at age 43 has brought new attention on the disease and how it disproportionately impacts African Americans.
Boseman was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer at 38. It later advanced to stage 4. Boseman was filming movies that included completing his own stunts while undergoing cancer treatment that included chemotherapy. The actor died on August 30. His death caught many who worked closely with him by surprise.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women in America. It is the second most common cause of death related to the disease. African Americans are disproportionately impacted with a 20 percent greater rate than whites and an even greater degree of mortality.
Every year on average 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colon cancer with about 50,000 succumbing to the disease. For African Americans the death rates are higher.  Diets high in animal fat and low in fiber are associated with the development of colon cancer.  Cigarette smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and vitamins C and E deficiency are also contributing factors tied to colon cancer.
Dr. Wayne Frederick, who is the President of Howard University and a medical doctor, where Boseman graduated in 2000, commented on Boseman’s trip to Howard University’s commencement in 2018 as the featured graduation speaker. Frederick focused on the importance of knowing what one’s family history is and knowing what close relatives died of. He instructed that if you’re unclear how a close relative died you should investigate and find out.
“When I was in medical school, we got screening guidelines that it should start at 50. What we are seeing now is individuals getting colon cancer now is much younger. It is something for us to watch,” said Dr. Frederick on Roland Martin Unfiltered on August 31. Martin broadcast a two-hour tribute in honor of Boseman on his daily show.
“African Americans are much less likely to get the generic screening,” he added. Dr. Frederick also mentioned that popular historian Dr. Ibram X. Kendi was diagnosed with colon cancer at 36.
In January 2018, Kendi learned he had colon cancer after a colonoscopy. Though the cancer spread to his liver, further tests revealed that Kendi was cancer free after six months of chemotherapy and surgery. In January 2019, Kendi wrote “What I Learned From Cancer,” in The Atlantic. Kendi was trying to complete another epic work “How to Be an Antiracist,” as he was being treated for colon cancer.
“In the hours of each day when I managed to submerge myself inside the writing zone, the metastatic cancer was an afterthought. The symptoms from the six months of chemotherapy, from January to June last year, were an afterthought: my marathons of tiredness, the bubbling nausea, my hands and feet tingling and darkening and drying and blistering, making them unusable at times,” Kendi wrote regarding this cancer battle.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is also a political strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke

Newswire:  John Thompson, coaching legend and unforgettable mentor, dies at 78

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Coach John Thompson


John Thompson was the first Black coach to win the NCAA Championship. In 1984, he led the Georgetown Hoyas to victory over the Houston Cougars. In 1985 Thompson was named Coach of the Year.  He coached at Georgetown University from 1972 to 1999.
Thompson was a coach who set the bar high for his players on and off the basketball court. He coached Patrick Ewing, Allen Iverson, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutumbo. He became a mentor to many long after they left Georgetown and competitive basketball.
Thompson had a preference for players that had a passion for the game on the court. He once said, “you can calm down a fool before you can resurrect a corpse.”
He emphasized the power of habit, attitude and state of mind with his players. “If you think you are beaten you are. If you think you dare not, you won’t,” he once said.
“Big John Thompson is the single most important African American man in the history of D.C. sports,” Sia writer Clinton Yeats. In 1999 he was selected to be in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
In 27 seasons, Thompson compiled a coaching record of 596-239. Most importantly to Thompson, 97 percent of his players stayed four years and left Georgetown University with a college degree.
Thompson was born in Washington, D.C. and went on to play in the NBA for the Boston Celtics.
Thompson is survived by his three children, John Thompson III, who also coached basketball at Georgetown, Ronny Thompson and Tiffany Thompson. Thompson’s autobiography is due out in January 2021.

Newswire : Civil Rights icon Benjamin Chavis to host weekly Black Talk Show on PBS

Benjamin Chavis

By Hazel Trice Edney

TriceEdneyWire.com) – Civil rights icon Dr. Benjamin Chavis, former NAACP executive director and current president/CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), will become host of a weekly Black-oriented public affairs talk show on PBS (Public Broadcasting System) in October.
As racial tensions and disparities have skyrocketed in almost every category of American life, Chavis and the show’s producer Clara Wilkerson says it’s time for a program that challenges the mind and focuses on solutions. They believe the show, Chavis Chronicles, is among the answers. PBS apparently agrees.
“Our nation is polarized by race; polarized by politics; polarized by economics; polarized by health disparities; polarized by the pursuit of education and the education gap; culturally polarized; ethnically polarized; religiously polarized,” Chavis said in an interview with the Trice Edney News Wire. “And so, with all of these multiple polarizations that are undergirded by systemic racism, having a national one-half hour in depth discussion about these issues – particularly from an African-American perspective – which the main stream media has not really chosen to focus on, will be crucial.”
American Public Television (APT), the leading syndicator of high-quality, top-rated programming to the nation’s public television stations, has confirmed that Chavis Chronicles is set to air in top markets across the nation, starting Oct. 1.
“We have reviewed the materials and are pleased to confirm it has been accepted for release in October, 2020 to the nation’s public television stations,” said a letter to Wilkerson from Judy Barlow, APT vice president for business development. “We are honored to work with you and Dr. Chavis on this fine series which will bring important conversations to the American people. Thank you for bringing it to us.”
Wilkerson, an award-winning independent producer, has worked with PBS for more than 25 years. Her company, CRW Worldwide, Inc., has produced more than 25 documentaries and video productions held in over 300 libraries internationally. Wilkerson says she created the Chronicles format specifically with Chavis in mind.
“I first and foremost see this show as one that touches the mind, body and soul. PBS is intellectual,” Wilkerson describes her vision for the show. “We’re bringing this program to those who want to see something more introspective – deep thinkers, change makers, leaders – but then we’re not snobs. We’re not saying we just want to do it for those who are highly educated. We want people who are into social justice and what’s good for the masses.”
Chavis Chronicles will be rare programming as there are currently no weekly talk shows on network television specifically from a Black perspective. Also, unlike cable television, PBS is still free of charge, which makes it accessible to people of all income levels, Wilkerson points out. “That’s why PBS is a great place for this. There’s no better place because we can reach the masses.”
PBS is a non-profit corporation established by Congress in 1967. It is funded by multiple resources, including private donations, foundations, federal funds, and dues from member stations. Chavis Chronicles will be self-funded, including through advertising sales, “so we can be more autonomous,” Wilkerson said.
An APT “Fact Sheet” describing the programming of Chavis Chronicles in its first year calls it “a thought-provoking half-hour weekly series with an urban American flair, featuring interviews with famous leaders and politicians, doctors and scientists, cultural leaders and influencers from around the globe…The Chavis Chronicles goes beyond the headlines offering insights on matters that impact the public and provides a unique perspective from a renowned living legend of the African American community.”
More than 62 million homes will have access to the show in 100 markets. They include top
Nielson-rated markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Houston, Boston and Atlanta.
Chavis says the first episode will feature an interview with U. S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) in his home office in Columbia, S.C. It will not only spotlight Clyburn as the nation’s highest-ranking Black lawmaker in his role as House majority whip; but also his family roots and civil rights background.
A social justice activist of more than 60 years, Chavis says his experiences have given him an appeal to people from all walks of life. He started his civil rights career as a youth coordinator for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Duke University while serving an unjust 34-year prison sentence as a member of the Wilmington 10, who Amnesty International declared political prisoners. The Wilmington 10 case garnered international attention and was pardoned 40 years later. He also received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Howard University. He believes Chavis Chronicles will draw a vastly diverse audience despite it being from an African-American perspective.
“The problem of systemic racism is not just a Black problem. It’s a White problem. It’s a Latino problem. It’s an Asian problem; a native American problem. So, this is a program for all audiences from all racial backgrounds. It’s also intergenerational. While I’ve had a longevity in the civil rights movement; I still have an appeal to millennials. I still have an appeal to the Hip Hop generation. I still have an appeal to the environmental justice movement which I helped to initiate 30 or 40 years ago,” Chavis says. “So, it’s very broad in terms of the scope of the program, but it comes from an African-American perspective.”
As president/CEO of NNPA, the Black Press of America, Chavis already has a broad weekly audience as a columnist. He also serves as board chairman of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) and is a regular contributor on the Black News Channel. However, he stresses that his new role as a PBS talk show host will be independent of all of his various other positions and responsibilities.
“And so, we have an unprecedented opportunity to present an in depth discussion; an in depth analysis and also to talk about some solutions to the problems that beset America and that beset people of color throughout the world; particularly those of African descent,” Chavis concludes. “My whole career is about freedom, justice and equality. But, overarching, the struggle for freedom, justice and equality is to stand for what’s true. Speaking truth to power, publishing truth to power, distributing truth to power. Now I have an opportunity to broadcast truth to power. If the Chavis Chronicles is going to represent anything, it’s going to represent the truth.”

Newswire: Kamala Harris speaks with Jacob Blake, paralyzed in police shooting

By: Nick Visser, Huffington Post

Kamala Harris, Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee

Sen. Kamala Harris spoke privately with Jacob Blake the Black man shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin and his family on Monday, her campaign said.
The Democratic vice presidential nominee was in Wisconsin for her first campaign visit since joining former Vice President Joe Biden in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump this November. Harris said she wanted to speak with Blake’s family “to express concern for their well-being and, of course, for their brother and their son’s well-being and to let them know that they have support.”
“They’re an incredible family and what they’ve endured and they just do it with such dignity and grace,” Harris told reporters after the meeting. “And you know they’re carrying the weight of a lot of voices on their shoulders.”
Several members of Blake’s immediate family, including his parents and two sisters, met with Harris. Blake joined by phone for about an hour. Blake’s attorney, Ben Crump, said the discussion was “inspirational.”
“In a moving moment, Jacob Jr. told Sen. Harris that he was proud of her, and the senator told Jacob that she was also proud of him and how he is working through his pain. Jacob Jr. assured her that he would not give up on life for the sake of his children,” Crump said in a statement. “She encouraged them to continue to use their voices even through their pain to help America make progress to end systematic racism.”
Harris’ visit follows Biden’s own trip to Wisconsin last week, during which he also met with Blake’s family and spoke with Blake via phone.
Trump went to Wisconsin last week as well, but the president did not meet with or mention Blake during the trip. Earlier he said that the parties could not agree on a way to meet.
A cellphone video of Blake’s Aug. 23 shooting by Officer Rusten Sheskey spread around the internet, sparking more calls for an end to police brutality in America and spawning additional protests in Wisconsin and across the nation three months after the death of George Floyd.
All of the officers involved in the encounter with Blake have been suspended. State and federal authorities are investigating the matter, but no charges have been filed.
Blake’s attorney shared a video on Saturday in which the 29-year-old gave his first comments on his injuries. Speaking from a hospital bed, Blake, who is paralyzed from the waist down, said his experience was “nothing but pain.”
“Your life and not only just your life, your legs something that you need to move around and move forward in life could be taken from you like this,” he said in the video. “You do not want to have to deal with this shit, man. … It hurts to breathe. It hurts to sleep. It hurts to move from side to side. It hurts to eat.”

Eutaw City Council certifies election results; Mayor questioned for handling voting machines, denying entry to City Hall to Water Management consultants

By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

The Eutaw City Council held a special called meeting on Tuesday, September 1, 2020, to certify the results of Municipal Election on August 25, 2020.
Mattie Atkins, Election Manager, reported the results of the election to the Eutaw City Council and showed envelopes containing the result slips, printed by the voting machines for examination by the Council or the public. She recommended a series of resolutions to the Council to sign and certify the election results.
Atkins indicated that there would be a runoff on October 6, 2020 between the top two vote getters in the Mayors race between incumbent Raymond Steele and Councilwoman Latasha Johnson.
Atkins also indicated that there will be a runoff in the District 1 Council race between Valerie “Nippy” Watkins and Chondra Mayes.
She declared LaJeffrey Carpenter the winner in District 2, Tracy Hunter in District 3, Larry Coleman in District 4 and Jacqueline Stewart in District 5.
There were no legal challenges to the election results.
Council Members LaJeffrey Carpenter and Latasha Johnson questioned why Mayor Steele was seen moving and handling the voting machines before the election.
Mayor Steele said, “The Sheriff informed us that he was not going to be able to provide deputies to move voting machines to the polling places. I rented a van to transport voting machines and I drove the machines to the polling places. I did not touch the machines.” Atkins indicated that the election poll officials must run a tape with zeroes before starting the election. She said those zero result sheets are also available.
Questions were also raised about a voting machine breakdown in District 4, where incumbent Councilwoman Shelia Smith lost by five votes, 110 for Larry Coleman to 105 for her. The closest result in the election. Atkins explained that the machine malfunctioned and was replaced after ten votes. She said, “The memory stick was removed from the faulty machine and inserted in the new machine to preserve the votes cast in the initial machine and continue the count.”
After the election results were certified, Councilwoman and Mayoral candidate Latasha Johnson announced to the public that Mayor Steele had denied entry to the City Hall and Water Department records, to Kathy Horne and two staff members from Water Management Services.
“We, the majority of the City Council, dismissed Mayor Steele as water system superintendent and contracted with Water Management Services, an experienced consulting firm, to help us correct problems in the physical water system and with the billing system and procedures. Kathy Horne and her staff came this morning to start work under an approved contract. Mayor Steele refused to allow Horne to enter the City Hall and threatened her with arrest for trespassing if she came in to do the job, we contracted with her to do,” said Johnson.
Horne and her assistants decided against defying the Mayor’s orders because they are professionals, working under a board of directors, and could not risk arrest. Horne pointed out that the City’s water system did not have a manager or inspectors which endangered the health of all the system’s customers.
In an interview for this story, after the City Council meeting, Mayor Raymond Steele said, “I told the City Council from the beginning that they did not have authority to interfere in day-to-day operations of the city. I consider the operation of the water system, part of my responsibility. I suggested that we get an Attorney General’s opinion on my responsibility for the water system but the Council did not seek a clarifying opinion before they acted. We have corrected most of the problems with the water system. It is not uncommon to have billing problems with a new system like the one we just installed.”
Steele also said, “I just learned that Councilman LaJeffrey Carpenter had written a letter dismissing the company that serves as certified operators and inspectors for our water system. I do not think he had authority to send that letter. All of this was arranged by the consultants that we do not need. I have informed the company that provides certified operators and inspects the water quality that they are still employed by our city. Bringing in these people from Water Management Services will cost more money and reduce the revenues from the system.”
Council members – Latasha Johnson, Joe Lee Powell, LaJeffrey Carpenter and Sheila Smith said they were concerned about the Mayor denying access to the Water Department to the consultants they had hired to correct the problems with service, pipes, meters, leaks, billing and other aspects of the water system. The Council members said they were considering legal action to enjoin the Mayor from preventing Water Management Services from accessing the water department system and records.
Latasha Johnson said, “I am outraged at the Mayor’s disregard for the Council’s action to clean-up the water system. This is a campaign issue and I challenge the Mayor to explain his actions and protect the quality of the water system. The health of our citizens, as well as getting fair bills and revenues from the water system, is at stake in this runoff election on October 6th.”

Greene County meets Sumter in first round Alabama launches Census Bowl among 32 counties statewide

ADECA leading month-long competition to encourage, reward Census self-participation
`MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Aug. 31, 2020) – The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) and Alabama Counts! announced today that it will launch a Census participation competition — deemed the Alabama Census Bowl — on Sept. 2 among 32 counties throughout Alabama with low self-response rates.
The competition will last for four weeks, ending Sept. 30, the final day that households across the state and nation can participate in the 2020 Census. Winning counties can receive up to $65,000 to benefit their public school systems.
Counties will compete in a March Madness-style, head-to-head challenge, with counties facing off against others in a weekly bracket system – with 16 counties in the East Bracket and 16 in the West Bracket. Only the counties with the biggest increase in self-response rates for that week will advance.
In week one, Greene County faces Sumter County. If Greene County secures more Census responses, we will move on to face the winner of Wilcox and Perry. If we are successful here, Greene County can move to the Elite Eight level and start to win prize money for our school system. “This is a good competition to help finish the 2020 Census and help our school system at the same time, “ said Dr. Carol Zippert, Greene County School Board President.
“We are close to the final buzzer on Census 2020, and the Alabama Census Bowl is an excellent way to drive our state’s self-response rate up — all while benefitting public schools,” said Kenneth Boswell, Alabama Counts! Chairman and ADECA director.
Census Bowl winners will receive monetary rewards based on final event standings. Elite Eight Runner-Ups will receive $20,000 each, Final Four Runner-Ups will receive $30,000 each, Second Place will receive $45,000, and the overall Census Bowl Champion will receive a total of $65,000 to benefit its public-school systems. Prizes will be awarded in October 2020.
“This is a unique way for counties to raise money for their schools, which can help with programs and projects benefitting deserving Alabama students,” added Boswell. “The grants can be used toward things like new technology, supplies or materials for classrooms.”
Alabama counties set to participate in the Sept. 2-30 Census Bowl include: Baldwin, Barbour, Bibb, Bullock, Butler, Cherokee, Choctaw, Conecuh, Coosa, Crenshaw, Clarke, Dallas, DeKalb, Greene, Hale, Henry, Lamar, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Perry, Pike, Randolph, Russell, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Walker, Washington, Wilcox, and Winston. The 32 counties selected were those with the lowest census self-response rates based on the July 24 self-response data provided by the U.S Census Bureau.
If you have not completed your 2020 Census yet, you can call 844-330-2020 or contact http://www.my2020Census.gov on your computer, tablet or smart phone, to answer the questions. This will only take ten minutes and helps Greene County and the State of Alabama to reach its goals.
For more information and to view the official bracket and rules, please visit alabama2020census.com/census-bowl.