ADEM holds Public Hearing in Eutaw on permit to cap coal ash pond at Alabama Power Steamplant in Forkland

Phillis Belcher of the Greene County Industrial Development Authority addresses ADEM at the October 22, 2020 meeting.

By: John Zippert,

On October 22, 2020, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) held a public hearing on permitting the closure, treatment and management of a coal ash pond, at the Alabama Power Company Steamplant in Forkland, which adjoins the Black Warrior River.
Alabama Power Company has submitted a plan to ADEM to treat the current open coal ash pond at its Steamplant, reduce its size from over 559 acres to 268 acres, by pulling out water and concentrating the ash residue, place a thirty foot deep, two foot wide wall, around the pond anchored to its chalk material base, place a plastic cap on the pond and continue to monitor 30 wells on the perimeter of the pond for contamination.

 Alabama Power Company stopped using coal as a fuel at its Forkland electricity generating facility about five years ago. The facility now uses natural gas to fuel its turbines. The company has a residue of coal ash stored in a 500 acre pond near the Black Warrior River. The EPA has required plants like the Forkland Steamplant to come up with a plan to deal with its coal ash residues, to prevent contamination of the nearby river or subterrain water sources.

A permit to treat, concentrate and cap the coal ash residues has been presented to ADEM by Alabama Power Company. The company did not present an alternative plan of excavating the coal ash and moving it to an inland secure landfill. The ADEM Public Hearing in Eutaw, at Carver School gymnasium, last week, was to solicit public comment on the permit application.
Most of the witnesses testified in support of the Alabama Power Company’s plan and permit, including: Woody Collins, Mayor-elect of Demopolis, Jason Williams, Marengo County Commission, Seth Hammett, Energy Institute of Alabama, Chris Arnold, Alabama Coal Cooperative, Blake Hartwick, Coosa-Alabama River Improvement Association, Jo Ellen Martin, Marengo County Development Authority and Phillis Belcher, Greene County Industrial Development Authority.
These witnesses basically said they agreed with Alabama Power’s permitting application, which they felt to be economically and environmentally sound. Most extolled their positive “community relationship and communications” with the company.
Residents of the area testified and questioned the safety of the project. John Jay and his wife said they had a camphouse south of the plant and that the area frequent floods and materials are discharged into the river. They warned of earthquakes in the area and said that the plant was adversely affecting overflowing wells on their property. Ms. Shamicka Gray of Forkland worried that the project would contaminate the water system which was the only source of water for her and her elderly mother.
Keith Johnston, Director of the Alabama Office of the Southern Environmental Law Center in Birmingham opposed the permit saying it does not satisfy requirements in Federal and state requirements. He argued that Alabama Power Company created this problem itself by disposing of the coal ash wastes in the easiest possible place that allowed leakage and contamination of the adjacent river.
Johnston observed that electric generating companies in other Southern states: Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and coastal Carolinas were disposing of their similar coal ash wastes by excavating them and moving them to safer lined landfills away from wetlands, rivers and water sources.
He indicated that contaminants like arsenic, boron, calcium, chloride, cobalt, lithium and other substances were leaking from the ash pond into groundwater sources. He asked the ADEM officials, “Would you ever permit a permanent, unlined, waste disposal site on a wetland like this one, close to a river? So why are you going to permit one without a long-term maintenance plan for the Forkland, Alabama area.
Nelson Brooks with Black Warrior Waterkeepers, an environmental watch-dog group that monitors the river flowing by the plant site said he did not support the permit. He said the Forkland Steamplant was built in the 1950’s on a wetland in a bow of the Black Warrior River. The land under the coal ash pond has many streams and tributaries flowing under it.
Brooks argued that the site was not suitable for a coal ash containment pond and that the materials should be excavated and moved to a safer location. “It may cost more to do this now, than cap the pond, but there will be great costs in the future if the plan fails and contaminants leak into the river and adjacent steams.” Brooks concluded by saying,” It is improper to permit this coal ash pond because it is too close to the Black Warrior River. ADEM and Alabama Power Company should reconsider this plan.”
At the end of the public hearing, Collin Sibley, ADEM Hearing Officer said the official record on this permit would remain open, at ADEM’s Headquarters Office in Montgomery, until 5:00 PM on October 29, 2020, for additional oral or written comments.

County approves budget increase for the Highway and Solid Waste Departments

At the Greene County Commission’s call meeting, held Thursday, October 22, 2020, the commission approved salary adjustments for the Enterprise Fund employees in the Highway and Solid Waste Departments. The commission approved a 3% salary adjustment for the County Engineer, Willie Branch, and 5% salary adjustment for the Highway and Solid Waste Department employees. Approximately 26 county employees will benefit from the salary adjustments.
These adjustments represent a $49,872 increase for FY 2021 Enterprise Fund budget.
The county’s Enterprise Fund, separate from the General Fund, is derived from garbage pick-up fees as well as road tax fees and can only be used for expenditures in the Highway and Solid Waste Departments.
The commission held an executive session prior to addressing the single agenda item of the call meeting. Chairman Allen Turner reported that no decisions were made in the executive session

Bayou La Batre, an historic African American community on Alabama’s Gulf Coast suffers from Hurricane Katrina 15 years later

Shrimp boats deposited on land, in Bayou La Batre, by Hurricane Katrina

Katrina survivor and activist Barbara Robbins and her 95-year-old mother are forced from their home of 52 years, because they never received rebuilding assistance!

News Analysis
By: Zack Carter

Preparing for the 10th Anniversary of Katrina the Poor People’s Campaign held a Truth Commission in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. The organizer’s report cites the community’s action items, and the testimony of Barbara Robbins, with whom I had the privilege of working with for ten years, fighting for a just recovery after Katrina:
“From the testimonies of these community leaders, the Saving OurSelves Coalition identified the following issues for action:

• “Recover and repair the homes of Snows Quarters: Alabama Fisheries Coop leader Barbara Robbins was forced out of Safe Harbor after she became disabled. ‘We [in Snows Quarter, the African American community of Bayou La Batre]…
Out of some 100 homes, only four of us received meaningful assistance. Since Katrina many of our homes flood after a hard rain and we can’t even flush the toilet. My living room floor is rotting. I am afraid my 90-year-old mother will fall through any day…”.
(“A Truth Commission Begins in Bayou La Batre, Alabama”, by John Wessel-McCoy, Nov. 7, 2014/Kairos).

The Truth Commission also referenced a 10-page report submitted to the United Nations, five years after Katrina, authored by Louisiana and Mississippi activists which concluded on pp. 7-8:

‘The hurricane damaged communities in Alabama are the most overlooked areas by the U.S. Government, and are not mentioned in the U.S. Government’s reports to the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination regarding Hurricane Katrina” ( Prepared by Advocates for Environmental Human Rights (Louisiana, USA),and The Gulf States Human Rights Working Group (Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, USA) alafishcoop. Coast Activists Report to the United Nations
Barbara Robbins was one of the thousands overlooked, but she refused to give up on getting their home repaired. With years of savings from her meager wages as a seafood worker and with a lot of borrower’s debt, Barbara hired a contractor to repair the floors. But it was a scam, like that suffered by thousands of other Katrina survivors. A photo shows the problem of the floors separating from the walls, which forced their recent departure from where they lived since 1968. Barbara Robbins, now disabled, cares full-time for her mother in a small low-income housing apartment.

Floors separating from walls in Barbara Robbins home

On the 15th Anniversary of Katrina, Aug 29, 2020, Barbara told me their heartbreaking story:

“When I take Mother out, the only place she wants to go, and the only safe place where we can avoid the virus, is the driveway of our home in Snows Quarter. This is where she and my father raised six children in the 1960’s and 70’s. Mother wants to go into our house, but I have to remind her it is not safe anymore. So, we just sit there in the car and reminisce for an hour or so until she finally says, ‘Okay, I’m ready to go now.’”

After an emotional pause in our interview Barbara continued.

“Recently the bank approved me for a trailer to put next to our home that I still hope to rebuild. I was about to rush to our apartment and give Mother the great news, but I was then told the City of Bayou La Batre will not allow trailers, even on the property we have owned for 52 years!”

“We never received any Katrina rebuilding assistance, like most of us in our Black Community. And that goes all the way back to our homeowners insurance agent who refused our claim, saying we were only covered for wind damage and not water damage even though Katrina’s 130 mph winds pushed the huge surge of water through our house, and on its return to the Gulf the surge sucked all our furniture out except the large freezer that jammed in the doorway.”
The powers that be in our state tried to deflect Alabama Katrina survivors’ demands for justice with the coded racist-based lie that ‘all the aid is going to New Orleans.’ Then, less than two years after Katrina, an Alabama investigative reporter revealed:  (”Katrina aid goes to condo buyers:…near the University of Alabama’s football stadium”, by Jay Reeves, AP, August 14, 2007, Tuscaloosa News,)

The next week the same newspaper published my Op-ed based on testimony and data provided by neglected Katrina survivors collected by Mobile County, and supported by a strong legal opinion from a national Civil Rights organization:

“……more than 2,000 Katrina survivors in Alabama still stuck in FEMA campers, and hundreds more doubled up in single-family homes, desperately waiting for Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds — allocated last summer — to be released.
“ The state’s failure to provide for these citizens contradicts the federal funding program’s intent to assist low- to moderate-income people and violates Alabama’s own stated objective to address unmet needs,” said Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C. (“MY TURN” by Zack Carter, Tuscaloosa News, July 15,2007).
Thus, our coalition countered the racist propaganda and policies by uniting with Civil Rights organizations and historic African American communities in north Mobile hard-hit by Katrina, as well as Katrina survivors in Louisiana and Mississippi. See for example one of our brochures that includes several pages of riveting photos of destruction, and survivors testimonies, from north Mobile along a 30 mile stretch to the “Bayou” : (“Tour of Mobile County Katrina Survivors”. alafishcoop.wordpress.comflyer-for-tour-of-mobile-county-victims/ )

We also received a legal boost from the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law who, on June 6, 2007 wrote a 4.5-page letter and shared their logo with three Alabama groups, and co-signed by hundreds of organizations and individals.

On the 2nd Anniversary of Katrina, Barbara Robbins, along with several carloads of Alabama Katrina survivors, Blacks, Asians, and Whites, attended the August 28, 2007 GULF COAST REBUILDING PROGRAM at the HBCU Dillard University in New Orleans. 

A featured speaker was Representative Maxine Waters. In the first two minutes of the CSPAN user video clip cited below, Representative Waters commended a Mississippi panelist for documenting unjust homeowner’s insurance companies’ schemes. She received a loud ovation after strongly stating: “it will take a revolution” to end these monopolized insurance companies’ corrupt refusal to pay claims (such as that suffered by Barbra Robbins!). 

Just after Rep Waters thunder, Derrick Johnson (now president of the NAACP)  introduced me and the inhuman treatment of people in our state: “Zack Carter, Alabama has been largely ignored as it relates to Katrina damage you all suffered. What do you see the federal government’s response should be?”.
My response was based on the, detailed evidence Alabama Katrina survivors had initiated, and then collected from licensed housing inspectors and summarized in a letter a Mobile County Commissioner, co-signed with us activists on July 7, 2007– documenting that there was only enough federal funds to repair or rebuild 15 – 20% of 1200 CDBG applicants who were accepted; and thousands more who missed the unjust two week, and barely publicized, deadline. ( Mobile County and AL activists letter to Sen Shelby documenting Katrina damage) al-activists letter

Barbara Robbins helped lead a multi-racial Coalition of Alabama Katrina Survivors 

On the 4th Anniversary of Katrina Celebrating a Victory: Barbara and Gertrude Robbins are pictured with several other activists in an article on the award winning blog Bridge the Gulf : “…in front of one of the 300-plus homes that were repaired or rebuilt in south Mobile County because of the grassroots advocacy and determined unity of all cultures, races, and creeds in The Bayou’ “. The activists also vowed to continue the fight for thousands of others who were left out in the cold, like the Robbins family. (“We Have Lost One of Our Own: Stella Mae Smith”, Posted by Bridge the Gulf /May 12, 2012.)

[Barbara Robbins]

The 15-minute video “Struggle for a Home Struggle for a Home in Alabama’s Bayou” documents how Black, White, and Asian Alabama Katrina survivors joined in a decade-long active struggle for their human right to housing or to rebuild after Katrina. (14’52”)

Barbara Robbins is seen often in the video — including the above photo of the blistering speech she gave to the corrupt director at Bayou La Batre’s Safe Harbor in 2012, for rent gouging and evicting residents from this 100 home neighborhood built with $18 million from HUD and FEMA for homeless Katrina survivors. The Safe Harbor director’s response was to call the police on all of the Katrina survivors and activists gathered at this public meeting.
Now in 2020, the same director and co-director recently resigned and are under investigation by the local sheriff’s office who told the press: ‘There is a substantial amount of money that comes in and not a dime has been used to improve or maintain the houses. there certainty appears to be a misappropriation of funds to put it nicely.’” (“Safe Harbor Landing raises concerns as MCSO launches investigation”, by Gaby Easterwood, WKRG, Sept. 20, 20.
Ms. Robbins’s activism continues to this day, see this letter to the present Mayor of Bayou La Batre from, Barbara Robbins, John Zippert, and me asking that he allow Ms. Robbins to place a trailer on her property as she continues to seek rebuilding assistance; and proposing a plan and for a housing cooperative that would restore the promise of affordable housing and rent-to-buy at Safe Harbor, dated Oct. 13, 2020.
Barbara and Gertrude Robbins story is emblematic of the one million people who were displaced by the inhuman and racist policies that followed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which also and yet to be accurately calculated, greatly increased the initial death toll of some 2,000. And today, as we are hit with disasters from Coronavirus to Gulf Coast hurricanes Laura, Sally, Beta, and Delta to forest fires in California and Colorado, our human rights are increasingly trampled under Trump and the extreme racist influence of his senior advisor Steven Miller.
By April of this year Trump and Miller had already cut FEMA’s budget in half — our country’s main relief agency – as they increased funding for their southern border wall and war on immigrants and their children, even separating nursing babies from their mothers! See: “FEMA Joined Coronavirus Fight with Posts Unfilled and Parent Agency Shifting Funds to Immigration” (Wall Street Journal, April 2020); and the above cited article.

Pictured left to right: Earl Presley; Stella Mae Smith; Paul Nelson, Zack Carter, Becky Barbour, Ernest Montgomery, Gertrude Robbins, Neece Presley, Donna Hunt, Danielle McKenzie, Phyllis Johnson, Barbara-Jean Robbins, Michael Robbins, Rosie Robbins. (Photo by Stefanie Bosare, August 29, 2009)

Trump and Miller are determined that survivors and victims of recent Gulf Coast Hurricanes will not be able to return to their homes in the same way that Hurricane Katrina survivors in Bayou La Batre and other Gulf Coast towns have not been able to return after a decade and a half.
Many properties of Katrina survivors ended up in the hands of wealthy developers and casinos, a phenomenon documented in Naomi Klein’s 2007 book, “The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism” Indeed, at the end of my interview with Barbara Robbins she told me a developer shamelessly offered a paltry amount for their property. Barbara rejected him and said: “I would rather see my home remain in ruins commemorating unjust Katrina policy”.

ACTION ALERT: Please call Bayou La Batre Mayor Terry Dowdy at 251 824 2171 and ask that he allow Barbara Robbins to place a trailer on their property so she and 95-year-old Gertrude Robbins can return to the home she bought and loves.

About the author: Zack Carter is a community organizer who helped bring national attention to unjust Katrina and BP recovery policies. He was trade union activist in Mobile during the 1980’s and advocated for Labor to speak out against the Klan lynching of Michael Donald. He currently serves on the Steering Committee of the SaveOurselves Movement for Justice and Democracy.

Greene County Townships schedule inaugurations

The four municipal governments in Greene County have scheduled their inauguration ceremonies for Tuesday, November 2, 2020.
City of Eutaw will hold its ceremony at 12 noon on the Judge Rolanda Wedgeworth in the center of town. Judge Lillie Jones Osborne will officiate.
Town of Forkland will hold its ceremony at 5:00p.m. at the Town Hall. Judge Lillie Jones Osborne will officiate.
Town of Union will hold its ceremony at 6:00 p.m. at the Union Fire Station Hall. The city clerk, Ms. Marilyn Sanford will officiate.
Town of Boligee will hold its ceremony at 5:00 p.m. at its Paramount School site. Judge Rolanda Wedgeworth will officiate.

City of Eutaw plans to approve new police chief at organizational meeting

The Eutaw Police Department lost three officers in the month of October, including Chief Derick Coleman, who resigns as of Oct. 30, 2020. According to Mayor-Elect Latosha Johnson, the city council will consider selecting a new chief of police, assistant chief and another officer at its organizational meeting following the city official’s inauguration ceremony scheduled for 12 noon, Monday, November 2. The names of the perspective appointees were not released.

Newswire : Nigerian writers rip ‘terror squad’ as protestors cry ‘just stop killing us’

Nigerians protest killing by police

Oct. 26, 2020 (GIN) – For many, the memories of rogue Nigerian soldiers firing live ammunition at hundreds of peaceful protesters in Lagos, killing at least 12 people, will be hard to forget.
Now, some of Nigeria’s prize-winning authors have turned acid-tipped pens against the government of Muhammadu Buhari for failing to rein in an elite police unit whose sullied record of unprovoked raids, arbitrary beatings, arrests and extortion, especially against young people, has sparked a movement that brought out thousands nationwide.
Renowned novelist and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was among the writers who shared an outpouring of grief and fury after the wanton shooting of young Nigerians trapped in a cul-de-sac while calling for an end to the harassment and killings by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“SARS is random, vicious, vilely extortionist,” Chimamanda wrote in a recent article. “SARS officers raid bars or arbitrarily arrest young men for such crimes as wearing their hair in dreads, having tattoos, holding a nice phone or a laptop, driving a nice car. Then they demand large amounts of money as “bail.”
Toyin Falola, distinguished teaching professor at the University of Texas, added: “Oct. 20, 2020 will go down in Nigerian history as the day the whole world saw images of the green-and-white striped flag stained with the red blood of protesters bludgeoned by the forces of the state… The abuses of President Buhari’s government are no longer being kept in the dark.”
Chidozie Uzoezie, a Lagos-based freelance writer, penned: “SARS, founded in 1992 to fight crimes, has metamorphosed into a hydra-headed plague, brutalizing and killing poor and voiceless Nigerians while protecting the rich… The Nigerian Police Force has been reduced from being law enforcement agents to mere trigger-happy tools in the hands of irresponsible governments and desperate politicians. In short, a menace.”
Finally, over 100 noted Nigerian writers signed an open letter published in African Arguments:  “We denounce in the strongest terms the tyrannical and shameful persecution of innocent Nigerians by officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and the continued harassment of peaceful protesters.
“As Chinua Achebe said, ‘We cannot trample on the humanity of others without devaluing our own.’ We ask that the government of Nigeria, under President Buhari, take concrete measures, beyond the flippant rhetoric of years gone by, and immediately reform the Nigerian Police Force as a whole.
“We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters protesting on the streets of Nigeria, and ask that every right-thinking member of the global community raise their voice and support the agitation for justice for the victims of police brutality in Nigeria, the immediate termination of such inexcusable conduct by all units of the police and a sincere and tangible reform of the police in Nigeria.”
More than 56 people have died since demonstrations began in Nigeria more than two weeks ago. w/pix of SARS protest

Newswire: Voter suppression tactics and long lines fail to quell resolve of Black voters

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

The lines are long, but Black voters are demonstrating their will to vote. In Texas, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana, African Americans’ resiliency and resolve have never been as severely tested.
They have gone to great lengths to overcome voter suppression, discouragement, misinformation, gerrymandering, and so many other obstacles to participate in America’s elections.
In Fort Bend County, Texas, a check-in machine glitch shut down at least four precincts, and a court ruling that significantly limited ballot locations didn’t stop many African Americans from traveling long distances and overcoming even longer wait times to vote.
In Georgia, NPR Reported that the clogged polling locations in metro Atlanta reflected an underlying pattern: the number of places to vote has shrunk statewide, with little recourse.
“Although the reduction in polling places has taken place across racial lines, it has primarily caused long lines in nonwhite neighborhoods where voter registration has surged and more residents cast ballots in person on Election Day. The pruning of polling places started long before the pandemic, which has discouraged people from voting in person,” the report noted.
In Virginia, a glitch shut down polls and forced officials to push back deadlines to cast early votes. Also, General Registrar Donna Patterson told reporters that the long lines in Virginia Beach had been like that each day since early voting began about one month ago. Add to that number the 55,000 mail-in ballots the registrar received to that point.
In North Carolina, about 163,000 votes were cast in person across North Carolina on Saturday, bringing the total to 828,456 in the state — more than double the number of people in North Carolina who went to the polls at this time in the 2016 election.
“Texas has been under siege confronting voter suppression from multiple fronts from our Governor Greg Abbott to the state higher courts,” noted Sonny Messiah Jiles, the publisher, and CEO of The Houston Defender Media Group,
“It is unbelievable or ridiculous for a county with 2.4 million registered voters to have one location to drop off mail-in ballots,” Jiles remarked.
“Despite their efforts, the Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, a smart young millennial, has been strategic and innovative with drive-thru voting, doubling the early voting locations and the historical move of 24-hour voting. But aside from voting access, we need to beware not to be bamboozled listening to the polls and just go and vote like our life depends on it, because it does.”
Numerous voter suppression tactics have been used in Texas and throughout the nation, added Patrick Washington, CEO, and co-publisher of the Dallas Weekly. “Like the late-night ruling, from a 5th Circuit Court via a three judge panel, all of whom appointed by President Trump to uphold Governor Abbot’s mandate to limit one ballot drop box for millions of voters in Dallas county,” Washington observed.
However, he continued: “Despite this deliberate, detrimental move, the night before early voting in Texas, I am pleased to see that the very voters that may have been affected in Dallas counties came to the polls big.
“I witnessed many volunteers at the Martin Luther King Center assisting the elderly with remaining comfortable with chairs and water during the long wait and assisting first-time voters by explaining the sample ballots. To know that ballot records are being broken in counties all over Texas doesn’t shock me. Unfortunately, a lot of tragic events due to racism and police brutality have occurred during Trump’s time in office.
“People are tired. People can’t see family and friends like they used to. In some cases, people are unemployed, angry, scared or maybe all of the above. So, in any case, people have the time to exercise their civic duty and vote.”
Even in states like Indiana, voter suppression efforts haven’t stopped Black people from lining up at the polls. “Indiana has some incredibly restrictive voter laws, and currently we only have one early voting site in all of Indianapolis,” stated Robert Shegog, CEO at the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper and Indiana Minority Business Magazine.
“A few more will open Oct. 24, but significantly more are needed given the size of the city. However, it is very refreshing to see so many people voting early. This has been a trend in Indianapolis for over ten years now, and the numbers keep increasing,” Shegog noted.
The Indianapolis Recorder reported that there were 13,206 votes cast through the first nine days of early voting – or nearly 10,000 more in the same period in 2008 and 5,000 more than in 2016.

Newswire: “Threat to health care and civil rights” judge Barrett confirmed by GOP Senate

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative judge with a stated opposition to the Affordable Care Act and many Civil Rights laws, was confirmed on Monday, October 26, 2020, as the next Supreme Court Justice.

Only Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins defected, while Democrats boycotted the formal vote.
“After refusing a Democratic nominee to the Supreme Court because an election was eight months away, they will confirm a Republican nominee before an election that is eight days away,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who is a Democrat.
“The Republican majority is lighting its credibility on fire. This hypocritical, 180-degree turn is spectacularly obvious to the American people. The American people will suffer the consequences of Judge Barrett’s far-right, out of the mainstream views for generations,” Schumer warned.
The high court now has three appointees of President Donald Trump and a 6-3 supermajority.
It also sets up a window for Trump to sabotage the General Election, one in which polls show he trails by double-digits heading into the final week of campaigning.
“In the crudest possible disparagement of Justice Ginsberg’s work, the Senate has continued its court-packing with the confirmation of far-right extremist Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. Not only an insult to the memory of a tireless advocate for human rights, outspoken protector of equality, and lifelong advocate for justice, the move is an unapologetic and hypocritical power grab by Trump and his co-conspirators in the Senate,” stated Marcela Howell, the president, and CEO of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda.
Among the issues the Supreme Court will soon hear are Pennsylvania ballot extensions. Just two days before Barrett’s confirmation, the GOP in the Keystone State asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a ballot receipt extension that would allow them to be counted if received within three days of Election Day – even if they do not have a legible postmark.
Three Wisconsin petitions are also before the court that concern Democrats who ask the justices to allow the counting of ballots six days after the election and whether COVID vulnerable voters and others in the state can secure replacement mail-in ballots via email.
The court is preparing to hear whether a New York prosecutor will get access to Trump’s financial documents from January 2011 to August 2019, including his tax returns. It’s believed Coney would side with Trump, raising concerns that if the high court has to decide the 2020 presidential election, the president will retain the office because he’s appointed Coney and two other justices: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Schumer noted that abortion rights are also on the line.
Many believe Barrett’s confirmation signals the end of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision. In Mississippi, a federal judge struck down the law in November 2018, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling late last year.
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she believes Barrett would uphold Roe v. Wade. “I believe that, given how she outlined, not only to me but how she spoke to the issue of reliance when she was before the committee, I believe that she will look at that and weight that in any matters in any cases that come before her that take up Roe v. Wade,” Murkowski said.
Another significant case facing the U.S. Supreme Court this fall is the Affordable Care Act’s fate, which Barrett has gone on record opposing.
With no replacement for the health care law – commonly known as Obamacare – it’s estimated that more than 22 million Americans will lose coverage. That number includes a large swath of African Americans and others with preexisting conditions.
“Without a replacement in place for Obamacare, the loss of this act will make things more difficult for those who need healthcare the most, in particular, the underrepresented and underserved communities, and those with preexisting conditions,” stated Dawon Hawkins, the Chief People and Training Officer for the health care startup Xcelrate UDI.
“Obamacare has provided affordable healthcare for millions of Americans, particularly 25 million Americans who will be left uninsured,” Hawkins continued.
“Under Obamacare, Medicaid eligibility expanded, enabling low-income uninsured adults to have healthcare access they desperately needed finally. This expansion greatly benefitted minority communities, who were otherwise unable to access healthcare services, let alone the ability to pay for healthcare.”
Losing coverage could also prove devasting for women and expecting mothers, shared Andrea Ippolito, a health tech expert and founder of SimpliFed, a company that assists mothers who breastfeed.
“Right now, under the Affordable Care Act, it is your right to have access to lactation support and counseling without cost-sharing for as long as you are breastfeeding. If the ACA gets struck down, the insurers will not be required to cover it, which could have devastating impacts on new parents,” Ippolito noted..
“It’s a flagrant miscarriage of justice, and it flies in the face of our representative democracy. In fact, McConnell and Judge Amy Coney Barrett said so themselves, in 2016 when President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court nearly nine months before the presidential election.
“But, as usual, Senate Republicans have changed the rules and trampled on the voices of the very people who elected them. To them, it was never about appointing a qualified judge to simply apply the law; they want Barrett on the court because of her right-wing views on access to healthcare, reproductive rights and freedom, voting rights, LGBTQ equality, immigrant justice, criminal justice, disability rights, and other issues that make a difference in the lives of most people.
“This confirmation should frighten every person in this country who believes in fairness, rules and having a say in how we’re governed. Barrett’s lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court swings it in an extreme direction that does not reflect the American people’s values.
“At her confirmation hearing, she evaded questions on the right of Americans to have access to healthcare, Medicare and Social Security; she refused to acknowledge systemic racism, and she was not clear that discriminatory barriers in voting exist.
“Barrett even refused to acknowledge basic facts about our democracy – that presidents should commit to a peaceful transition of power, that voter intimidation is illegal, and that presidents cannot change the date of an election. Her judicial philosophy closes every door that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg ever opened.”

Bingo facilities distribute $484,468.83 for October; Forkland’s improvements supported by bingo funds

Following summary provided by Mrs. Kinya Isaac
Bingo Funds regulated by Sheriff Jonathan Benison have afforded the Town of Forkland the opportunity to promote economic development, create jobs, enhance community programs for senior citizens, purchase a recreation and education center for our youth and property for a future park development. It has not only insured a balanced operational budget for the town, but the bingo allocations have also provided seed and matching funds for numerous projects such as vehicles for the newly reactivated police department, $350,000 CDBG Grant to pave streets, Equipment Purchase Grant and the Forkland Innovative Center. Accomplishing the visions of the town’s 2017-2020 Strategic Plan would have been impossible without Charity Bingo.
Mayor McAlpine and the Town Council have initiated the process to build a Public Safety Building which will house the police department, the fire department and the municipal court. Charity Bingo Funds give the Town of Forkland an opportunity to provide vital services which enhance the quality of life for the residents of the community and the surrounding areas.
Distribution for October
On Wednesday, October 14 2020, Greene County Sheriff’s Department reported a total distribution of $484,468.83 from four licensed bingo gaming operations in the county. The bingo distributions were contributed by Frontier, River’s Edge, Palace and Bama Bingo.
The recipients of the September distributions from bingo gaming include the Greene County Commission, Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).
Sub charities include Children Policy Council, Guadalupan Multicultural Services, Greene County Golf Course, Branch Heights Housing Authority, Department of Human Resources and the Greene County Library.
Bama Bingo gave a total of $113,499.98 to the following: Greene County Commission, $30,570; Greene County Sheriff’s $33,750; City of Eutaw, $7,750; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500, and the Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities, each $1,133.33.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $114,994.98 to the following: Greene County Commission, $30,570; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $33,750; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500; Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities each, $1,333.33.
River’s Edge (Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $114,994.98 to the following: Greene County Commission, $30,570; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $33,750; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500; Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities each, $1,333.33.
Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $140,983.89 to the following: Greene County Commission, $37,478.82; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $41,377.50; City of Eutaw, $11,340.50; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $4,750.75; Greene County Board of Education, $12,873 and the Greene County Health System, $15,325; Sub Charities each, 1,389.47.

Newswire:  Joe Morgan, “Big Red Machine” star dies at 77

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Joe Morgan, Cincinnati second baseman

Joe Leonard Morgan, one of the all-time greatest second basemen in Major League Baseball history, and a key cog in Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine, has died at the age of 77.
Over 22 mostly magnificent seasons, the left-handed batting Morgan, who memorably flapped his left arm before each pitch thrown to him, totaled 2,517 hits, 1,650 runs scored, and a .271 lifetime batting average.
Additionally, he slugged 268 home runs and stole 689 bases.
Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990, Morgan began his illustrious career with the Houston Colt .45s in 1963. He remained with Houston, which in 1965 changed its nickname to the Astros for nine seasons. In 1971, the Astros traded Morgan to the Cincinnati Reds.
In Cincinnati, he joined Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Ken Griffey Sr., George Foster, and others to form the renowned Big Red Machine.
In 1975, the Reds defeated the Boston Red Sox in one of the most memorable World Series ever, an epic matchup where five of the seven games were decided by one run.
The following year, Morgan helped lead the Reds to a sweep of the New York Yankees in the Fall Classic to capture a second straight title.
Morgan earned League Most Valuable Players in each of those seasons. He earned selection to the All-Star team 10 times and won five Gold Gloves.
In 1983, Morgan joined the Philadelphia Phillies and helped lead them to a World Series appearance against the Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore won the series in five games, and Morgan would play one more season, ending his career with the Oakland A’s.
Morgan’s death is the latest among several legendary baseball players over the past several months, including fellow Hall of Famers Lou Brock and Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals, Tom Seaver of the New York Mets, and Whitey Ford of the New York Yankees.