Newswire : New wave of migration out of Africa with tragic results

Barge with immigrants aboard
Nov. 9, 2020 (GIN) – Migrants around the world are continuing their desperate flights for survival even though rescue efforts have slowed and rich countries are building higher walls against the asylum seekers.
The deadliest shipwreck of the year occurred most recently off the coast of Senegal where at least 140 people drowned after a boat carrying around 200 migrants sank, according to the UN migration agency (IOM).
We are “deeply saddened by this tragedy, which follows four shipwrecks recorded in the central Mediterranean off Libya as well as another in the English Channel” the IOM said in mid October.
Senegalese authorities had previously said that some 10 people had died while 60 had been rescued.
EU Foreign Affairs chief Josep Borrell Fontelles expressed his anguish on Twitter at the turn of events, writing: “Another tragedy at sea. Human traffickers taking advantage of despair are a scourge that we have to fight harder.”
The government in Senegal has warned of a “resurgence” in migrants attempting to reach Europe via a perilous crossing to Spain’s Canary Islands.
IOM announced it had arranged a mission with the Senegalese government to assess the needs of survivors and provide “immediate psychosocial assistance.”
An estimated 11,000 migrants have reached the Canary Islands so far this year, compared to 2,557 arrivals during the same period last year, according to IOM data.
Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) at its recent executive board meeting, identified the central Sahel – a band of countries running from Mauritania to Eritrea – as one of the most worrying situations – a political, security and humanitarian crisis which has displaced millions.
“Few situations have shocked me as much,” confessed Filippo Grandi, UNHCR commissioner, “the violence, the brutality, including horrifying stories of gruesome murders of parents in front of their children. Most abominable of all, thousands of women are raped as part of the dynamics of violence.”
“Obviously, some (border) restrictions are needed… but these must be temporary and non-discriminatory, and respect non-derogable international human rights obligations.”
He cited the work of the Ugandan government which assists more than 1.4 million refugees, allowing them to set up businesses, find employment, and move freely around the country.
He also congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and VP-elect Kamala Harris for their election win. “We look forward to working with your administration on global and domestic refugee issues. U.S. leadership is more crucial than ever for the world’s most vulnerable

Greenetrack, Inc. Charities distribute $71,000 for October, and $1,000 scholarship award

The non-profit charities operating electronic bingo at Greenetrack in Eutaw, AL, E-911 Communication Services, the Greene County Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, and Woman to Woman, Inc., provided charitable contributions, for the month of October, to a variety of local organizations, all benefitting Greene County residents.
A total of $71,100 dollars was divided and given to the following charities:
Greene County Board of Education ($13,500); Greene County Hospital ($7,500); Greene County Commission ($24,000); City of Eutaw ($4,500); City of Union ($3,000); City of Boligee ($3,000); City of Forkland ($3,000); and Greene County Ambulance Service ($8,000).
Woman To Woman, Inc. distributed the Greenetrack $1,000 scholarship to Tyleshia Porter, a 2020 graduate of Greene County High School.
The following non-profit groups received $300: Greene County Nursing Home, SCORE, Greene County Golf Course, James C. Poole Memorial Library, Greene County Foster & Adoptive Parents Association, PARA, Greene County Housing Authority Youth Involvement, Children’s Policy Council, Reach, Greene County DHR, Greene County Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, and the Society of Folk Arts and Culture.

Newswire : Dave Roberts becomes second Black manager to win the World Series

Dave Roberts, Manager LA Dodgers

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

The Los Angeles Dodgers are the champions of baseball in large part because of a masterful managerial job by Dave Roberts, who becomes just the second African American skipper to win the World Series.
The Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 in Game 6 at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, the first-time Major League Baseball held the Fall Classic at a neutral site.
“It feels great,” proclaimed Roberts, who joined Cito Gaston of the Toronto Blue Jays as the only Black managers to lead their team to a world championship. Gaston’s Blue Jays won back-to-back titles in 1992 and 1993.
The title is the seventh in franchise history for the Dodgers and first since 1988. It marked the second celebration in less than a month for a Los Angeles professional sports team – the Lakers defeated the Miami Heat on October 11 to win the NBA championship.
The victory also comes 33 years after then-Dodgers General Manager Al Campanis appeared in a controversial and racially-charged interview on ABC News’ “Nightline” with Ted Koppel.
During the mostly forgettable 1987 broadcast, Campanis infamously told a live audience why he believed African Americans couldn’t succeed in managing a Major League Baseball team.
“No, I don’t believe it’s prejudice,” Campanis blasted when Koppel asked the reason for the lack of African American managers in baseball. “I truly believe that they may not have some of the necessities to be, let’s say, a field manager, or perhaps a general manager.”
When Koppel responded by questioning whether Campanis believed that, the Dodgers’ boss didn’t relent. “Well, I don’t say that all of them, but they certainly are short. How many quarterbacks do you have? How many pitchers do you have that are black?” Campanis demanded.
To his credit, Koppel shot back: “I gotta tell you, that sounds like the same kind of garbage. That really sounds like garbage, if – if you’ll forgive me for saying so.”
Unrelenting, Campanis volleyed: “No, it’s not garbage, Mr. Koppel, because I played on a college team, and the center fielder was Black, and the backfield at NYU, with a fullback who was Black, never knew the difference, whether he was Black or white, we were teammates. So, it just might be – why are Black men, or Black people, not good swimmers? Because they don’t have the buoyancy.”
Roberts, like Gaston before him, proved his so-called buoyancy. With a deft-touch, Roberts guided the Dodgers from a 2-0 and 3-1 deficit in the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves.
Just 14 teams out of 89 in baseball history have come back to win a best-of-seven series after dropping three of the first four games.
Since 1992, 11 Black men have managed Major League Baseball teams, including Dusty Baker, who came out of retirement this year to manage the Houston Astros to the American League Championship Series.
Roberts’ success is already legendary. Since he took over the Dodgers in 2016, he’s guided the team to three National League Championships. Now, he’s delivered the ultimate prize, defeating the relentless and talented Rays in just six games.
Roberts has compiled an impressive 436-273 won-loss record for a Hall-of-Fame like .615 winning percentage.
After a COVID-shortened but challenging 60-game regular season and an extra playoff round that culminated into a world championship, Roberts said he’ll let it all sink in. “It means a lot for me personally, of course,” Roberts exclaimed as his players doused him and each other with champagne.
“But for the Dodgers organization, the franchise where they’ve always been forward-thinking and groundbreaking as far as race and color barriers,” Roberts continued.
“So, for the Dodgers and for me to be the manager of this ball club to bring a championship back to Los Angeles, I think it’s well beyond bigger than

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

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.”

Superintendent Jones says schools will remain in Phase I with remote learning

In his report to the Greene County Board of Education at its regular monthly meeting, Monday, October 19, 2020, Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones announced that Greene County schools will continue with remote student learning for the second nine weeks. Jones stated that he has kept a daily vigil on the COVID-19 positive reports for the county as well as state-wide to assist him is making the most prudent decision for students, their families and the community.
“ I want our students back in the classroom, but I also want them and their families to be safe,” he said.
Dr. Jones explained that he conducted a survey with parents and with the instructional staff to get their input on whether students should return to the classrooms. He reported that in the parents’ survey, 56% were for students returning to the classrooms while 44% wanted to remain with remote learning. According to Jones, there was a big difference in the teachers’ survey: 85% wanted to remain with remote classes, while 15% favored returning to the classroom.
The superintendent said that he is aware that some students are struggling with the remote process. “I realize that for some students remote classes may not be the best approach for them individually; there are distractions in the home; there may be insufficient home support for students while parents are at work; some students are not logging in on a consistent basis; however, protecting lives still is the highest consideration at this time,” he said.
Jones also stated that once progress reports are issued, failing students will be brought back to the classroom for on-site instruction. “This will only be carried out with the greatest of precaution for a smaller number of students. Every safety measure will be in place,” he emphasized.
According to the superintendent, if COVID-19 factors decrease significantly, Phase II, which includes a hybrid instructional approach with a blend of remote and face-to-face classes, will be implemented for the entire school system.
Jones reported that his staff continues to sanitize all school facilities, including fogging. ‘We are expecting plexiglass for our facilities to arrive this week,” he said.
In other business, the board approved the following recommendations of the superintendent:
Employment: Marilyn Finch, Bus Driver, Department of Transportation; Latasha Lewis, Bus Driver, Department of Transportation.
Voluntary Transfer: David Peterson, from Maintenance Helper to Mechanic Helper, Department of Transportation.
•Resignation: LaToya Consentine, Bus Driver, Department of Transportation, effective September 30, 2020.
Administrative Service Items:
•Contract between Greene County Board and Criterion Consulting, Formative Administrator Evaluation Support Services.
•Contract between Greene County Board of Education and Woods Therapeutic Services, Inc.
•Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll
Dr. Jones presented a plaque of appreciation to Board member William Morgan for his service to the Greene County School System. Morgan’s term of office ends in November. Morgan also received a plaque of achievement from the Alabama Association of School Boards for reaching the Master’s level in board training.
Board member Carrie Dancy received a plaque of achievement from AASB for meeting all requirements for school board training for 2020.

Newswire: Trump orders aides to halt talks on COVID-19 relief


President Trump said Tuesday (October 6) that he has instructed his top aides to stop negotiating with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on future coronavirus stimulus legislation until after the November election, a risky move just weeks before voters head to the polls.
Trump, who is himself currently being treated for COVID-19, accused Pelosi in a series of tweets Tuesday afternoon of “not negotiating in good faith” and seeking “bailouts” for states he says are poorly run by Democratic officials.
“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business,” Trump tweeted.
The message marked a sharp reversal for the president, who just three days earlier had urged leaders of both parties to come together to finalize an agreement that can hit his desk before the Nov. 3 elections.
“OUR GREAT USA WANTS & NEEDS STIMULUS. WORK TOGETHER AND GET IT DONE,” Trump tweeted on Saturday afternoon, a day after he checked into the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to be treated for COVID-19.
Pelosi quickly condemned Trump’s move Tuesday, accusing the president of neglecting his office by refusing to provide help to those struggling under the health and economic weight of the pandemic.
“Today, once again, President Trump showed his true colors: putting himself first at the expense of the country, with the full complicity of the GOP Members of Congress,” she said in a statement.
The Democratic leader added that the White House “is in complete disarray.”
In derailing the talks, Trump seems to be betting that his best shot at reelection is not in getting new emergency funding out the door before Nov. 3, but instead dangling the promise of more aid for after voters go to the polls – particularly if he wins.
The president singled out one area of the talks where both sides have remained far apart for weeks: help for state and local governments. Pelosi is seeking more than $430 billion for those localities, while Republicans have rejected that figure as far too high, wary that Democrats simply want to rescue blue states facing budget crunches as the result of policy decisions made before the pandemic started.
“Nancy Pelosi is asking for $2.4 Trillion Dollars to bailout poorly run, high crime, Democrat States, money that is in no way related to COVID-19,” Trump tweeted. “We made a very generous offer of $1.6 Trillion Dollars and, as usual, she is not negotiating in good faith.”
The strategy is a risky one. Millions of Americans remain out of work; thousands of businesses are on the brink of collapse; the major airlines have furloughed tens of thousands of employees in recent days; and American consumers have been wary of returning to restaurants, theaters and public transit, even in regions where they’ve reopened.
Earlier Tuesday, Jerome Powell, head of the Federal Reserve, warned that the long-term effects on the economy could be devastating if Congress fails to act quickly with more emergency relief – comments not overlooked by Pelosi, who has leaned heavily on Powell’s grim forecasts as leverage throughout the talks. And stocks immediately plunged after Trump announced he would call off the negotiations until after the election, which is now four weeks away.
Trump’s tweets came shortly after the president hosted a call with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and top congressional Republicans – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) – about the status of the talks.
McConnell and McCarthy have both been cold to the idea of adopting another massive round of stimulus. And the fact that it was their message, not Mnuchin’s, that resonated with the president is some indication of the level of Republican distrust in the Treasury secretary, who has come under fire from the GOP in earlier negotiations for giving away too much to Pelosi.
Trump’s actions appeared to come as a surprise to Pelosi and the Democrats. Mnuchin has been speaking daily with Pelosi, and just minutes before Trump’s tweets, Pelosi told rank-and-file Democrats on a private conference call that she and Mnuchin continued to make progress and that she was waiting to hear back from the White House on state and local funding and other Democratic priorities.
Trump is currently trailing Democratic nominee Joe Biden in national and swing-state polling. The president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been a central issue in the election.
Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows have been negotiating with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) since late July on a fifth bipartisan coronavirus relief package but have been unsuccessful in reaching an agreement.
The president has remained largely on the sidelines in the negotiations, allowing Meadows and Mnuchin to take the lead on the discussions.
Trump and Pelosi have a particularly chilly relationship and have not had a meaningful conversation for an entire year. In lieu of a deal in August, Trump signed a handful of executive orders aimed at halting federal evictions, extending expanded unemployment benefits and deferring the payroll tax.
The president returned to the White House on Monday evening after 72 hours of treatment for the coronavirus at Walter Reed. Trump, who was diagnosed with the virus on Thursday, has sought to project an image of strength by showing that he has returned to work amid his illness. Some pundits speculated that the President’s decision may have affected by the medications he is taking for the virus.
Trump has also urged Americans not to fear the virus or allow it to “dominate” their lives, remarks that have been met with scrutiny from health experts who argue that he has dangerously minimized the threat from COVID-19.

  • Jordain Carney contributed.

Special Posting – Breaking News: Eutaw Water System users file lawsuit to force Mayor Steele to allow management consultants and auditors to correct problems

Eutaw, AL, October 4, 2020: Eleven residents of the City of Eutaw, including City Councilwoman, Sheila Smith, filed a lawsuit today against Mayor Raymond Steele, to compel him to allow an audit and a water management consulting firm to go to work to resolve the problems of the City of Eutaw Water Department.

The Civil lawsuit, titled SHEILA SMITH ET AL V. RAYMOND STEELE 35-CV-2020-900052.00 was electronically filed this morning in the Greene County Circuit Clerk’s Office.

The lawsuit is in response to Mayor Steele’s actions blocking CPA Donald Woods of Tuscaloosa from auditing the Eutaw Water Department and Water Management Associates, a Montgomery based water management consulting firm, from gaining access to the Eutaw Water Department to begin a process of correcting the problems of this crucial city department.

The Eutaw City Council approved by a 5-0 vote, the contract for Water Management Associates (WMA) to begin working on September 1, 2020. Mayor Steele refused to sign the contract, saying the Council did not have authority to make the contract. The Council then voted by a 4-0 vote, to authorize Mayor Pro Temp LaJeffrey Carpenter to sign the contract with WMA.

Mayor Steele refused Kathy Horne and two technical associates from WMA access to the Eutaw Water Department, on September 1, 2020, and threatened them with arrest for trespassing. The WMA staff was unwilling to risk arrest to implement their contract to improve the water system.

The lawsuit also calls for the Mayor and the City to implement a policy of not accepting cash for water bills that the Eutaw City Council enacted in February 2020 but which the Mayor decided to ignore and never implement.

Councilwoman Smith said, “We filed this lawsuit to compel Mayor Steele to carry out the wishes of the Eutaw City Council to straighten out the City Water Department from top-to-bottom. We

wanted to file before Tuesday’s Runoff Election so the Mayor and the voters of Eutaw would know we want to see these problems resolved now.”

         A copy of the lawsuit as filed, follows for you to read.

Eutaw Municipal Election Runoff coming next Tuesday, October 6th; Mayor Raymond Steele challenged by Councilwoman Latasha Johnson

News Analysis
by John Zippert,
Next Tuesday, October 6, 2020 there will be an important election to determine the coming four years of services, progress and direction for the City of Eutaw.
The municipal elections feature a runoff between incumbent Mayor Raymond Steele and challenger, current District 1 City Councilwoman Latasha Johnson.
In the August 25, 2020 election, Steele led the field of five candidates with 403 votes (33%) to 359 (30%) for Johnson, with the additional three candidates: Joe Lee Powell, Sandra Walker and Queena Bennett Whitehead, dividing the remaining 37% of the vote. A total of 1,219 (49.7%) of the 2,450 registered voters in the City of Eutaw turned out to vote in the primary.
The three losing candidates have endorsed Latasha Johnson in the runoff. She is also endorsed by the Greene County Chapter of the Alabama New South Alliance, College Young Democrats, the Friends of Retirees/Employees Political Action Committee and a number of other groups.
Mayor Steele, a retired military officer, dry cleaning proprietor and real estate developer, was the first African-America Mayor of Eutaw and served three terms as Mayor from 2000 to 2012. Hattie Edwards, a City Councilwoman, defeated Steele in 2012 and served until 2016, when the voters returned Steele to the position of Mayor.
The major issues separating the candidates center around the operation and direction of the city government. The Mayor often makes decisions on his own without consulting the council members.
When the Mayor made several purchases of surplus property from the State of Alabama, the Council voted to take him off the bank accounts as a signatory, so he could no longer make financial decisions on his own.
For this full four term, the City operated without a budget, and financial reports comparing actual revenues and expenses to budgetary projections. There has been no audit of city finances, including the Water Department, although an annual audit is required by USDA Rural Development which provided a $3 million grant and loan package to revamp the water system during the Edwards Administration.
Mayor Steele generally provides the Eutaw City Council with the bank balances for various accounts and a list of the bills owed. This has led to constant fighting between the Council and the Mayor over which funds to use to pay which bills rather than using a budget and an operating plan to determine what funds are used to pay which bills and which new capital expenditures, like cars, trucks and bulldozers, can be purchased.
Latasha Johnson says that she will have a budget, audits and regular financial statements to share with the Council and the residents of the city.
The management of the City Water Department has been a major point of contention. The Council had to vote to dismiss Steele as the Manager of the Water System to try and correct billing, meters and other problems. After a report from the Alabama Rural Water Association showed more than half of all water pumped by the City was not billed, resulting in a revenue loss of more than $49,000 per month, the Council voted 5 to 0, with only the Mayor objecting, to employ Water Management Associates, a consulting company to manage the system for three years to correct the problems.
When a team from the consulting company came to Eutaw on September 1, 2020 to begin work under the contract, Mayor Steele refused to allow them to come into the Water Department and threatened to arrest them for trespassing, if they did start working or took any records. Mayor Steele contends that the billing and other problems of the water system have been solved and the employment of the consultants is an unnecessary expense.
Latasha Johnson says people are coming to her everyday with inaccurate water bills and questions about their water meters so she knows the system is still not operating properly. She says she will bring in the consultants to straighten out the water system and to train local people to maintain the system. She even hinted that some of the council members may file a suit against Mayor Steele to enjoin him from preventing the consultants from starting work before his term ends in November.
Mayor Steele purchased the Carver School for the City, to be used as a community and recreation center. Latasha says the Mayor told her that he was going to purchase the school together with the County Commission to have a broader set of resources to draw on to develop the facilities. “Next thing I knew, he had taken some city bingo money and bought Carver School, without talking to the Council or working with the County Commission,” said Johnson.
“Now he doesn’t have enough money to really improve the Carver facilities. We need air conditioning in the gym; maybe we should build a swimming pool and exercise facility, but we don’t have the funds. We also don’t have a partnership with the County Commission to make the dreams for the center a reality. I will rethink this whole project, with the City Council, if I am elected Mayor,” said Johnson.
Mayor Steele deserves credit for working with the City Council and other agencies to attract the Love’s Truckstop to Exit 40 on the 59/20 Interstate. Love’s is providing increased fuel and sales tax revenues to the city but the Mayor has never made a written financial and narrative report on the budgetary impacts of this major project to the city – because he doesn’t have a budget or budget projections to relate to good news for the city.
The publishers of the Democrat are encouraging all residents of Eutaw to vote in the critical October 6th Municipal Election Runoff next week. On page 4, we have an editorial supporting Latasha Johnson for Mayor and we also have a letter from Mayor Steele answering some of the information we reported in last week’s newspaper.

‘SOS Five’ given new court date

SOS leaders hold press conference in front of Montgomery Justice Center, L. to R. Karen Jones, Kamasi Amin, John Zippert and Faya Rose Toure, Ellen Dungen in background.

On September 21, 2020 the ‘SOS Five’ went to the Montgomery Justice Center for arraignment on misdemeanor charges for “defacing public property” writing “Black Lives Matter and Expand Medicaid Now”, on July 16th, in the street in front on the Alabama State capitol in Montgomery. The SOS Five planned to plead “not guilty” at the hearing.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the City of Montgomery Court was not in session, and the court appearance was rescheduled for November 23, 2020.
Four of the five SaveOurselves and Black Lives Matter leaders were present: Karen Jones, Faya Rose Toure, Kamasi Amin and John Zippert. Former Mayor Johnny Ford had an attorney to postpone his hearing because he was dealing with a family health emergency.
The ‘SOS Five’ turned themselves in on July 20, 2020 and were held in the Montgomery City Jail for five hours and exposed to coronavirus, by staff and inmates, who were not wearing masks and were not socially distant.
The two women, Karen Jones and Fay Rose Toure were subjected to a full body strip search, including their private parts, as part of the jail processing routine. The men in the group were not strip searched but had to strip to their underwear and don prison jumpsuits.
The SOS leaders spoke to the press before going into the Justice Center. “We are innocent and we will plead not guilty because we are not guilty. We demand that these unnecessary charges be dropped. All we did was try to use our Constitutional free speech and freedom of assembly rights to send a message to Governor Ivey and the people of Alabama,” said Fay Rose Toure of Selma.
Kamasi Amin said,” Young people like me, I am 26 years old, must get involved in this struggle to end police brutality and provide health care to all of our citizens especially in this time of the coronavirus pandemic. Black Lives Matter!”
Karen Jones said, “I am deeply concerned and offended at the way we were treated and strip searched by the Montgomery police. We are seasoned and educated activists, who know our rights. What are they doing and how are they treating average ordinary people who are arrested in Montgomery? The Mayor and the City Council must investigate this and change their policies and procedures.”
“I did write Expand Medicaid in the street, with spray paint in front of the State Capitol, because I wanted Governor Ivey to see it. The misdemeanor, we may have committed, was for a greater purpose of alerting the Governor and the public to the denial of health care to over 340,000 working poor people,” commented John Zippert, who is also Co-Publisher of this newspaper.
The ‘SOS Five’ and eleven other demonstrators who were arrested two weeks later by Montgomery City Police at another demonstration on the steps and street in from of the State Capitol still await trial.
The SaveOurselves Movement for Justice and Democracy will be back protesting for Medicaid Expansion, equity in the fight against coronavirus, and police killing of unarmed Black, Brown and poor people, at the State Capitol steps in Montgomery on this Thursday, October 1, 2020. For more information or to support the SOS, contact through Facebook and the Internet or call: 334/262-0932.