President Trump could spend more on traveling in one year than Obama did during his entire time in office

BY CHRIS SOMMERFELDT, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

If he keeps up his current pace, President Trump will apparently spend more taxpayer money on traveling in one year than former President Barack Obama did throughout his eight years in office.
Trump’s frequent trips to his private Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, have already cost taxpayers more than $20 million since he took office on Jan. 20, according to estimations based on a 2016 Government Accountability Office report.
The revelation, first reported by CNN on Monday, stands in sharp contrast to Trump’s pledge to slash federal funding — and in even sharper contrast to his repeated criticisms of his predecessor’s travels.

“The habitual vacationer, @BarackObama, is now in Hawaii,” he tweeted on Dec. 27, 2011. “This vacation is costing taxpayers $4 million +++ while there is 20% unemployment.”
Obama spent a little less than $97 million on travels throughout his two presidential terms, according to a December 2016 report compiled by the conservative-leaning Judicial Watch group. Those figures include both official White House trips and personal travels, such as family vacations.

While it’s complex to calculate Trump’s exact travel costs so far, an estimate can be determined by comparing the cost of a four-day Florida trip Obama took in 2013 to Trump’s frequent Mar-a-Lago visits. Obama’s trip, which was similar in length and nature to Trump’s Florida visits, cost taxpayers $3.6 million.
As of Monday, Trump has spent a total of 21 days at Mar-a-Lago since becoming President. Based on the expense figure from Obama’s 2013 trip, Trump’s total travel costs therefore amount to roughly $21.6 million so far.

If he keeps up that pace for another nine months, Trump will easily surpass Obama’s $97 million mark.
Meanwhile, Trump’s federal budget proposes to slash spending by $54 billion. The cuts would severely impact the Environmental Protection Agency, the State Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The budget also proposes to completely eliminate federal funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.

Even though he harshly blasted Obama for occasionally playing golf while in office, Trump has on several occasions been spotted on the links during his mini-vacations to Florida. “Can you believe that, with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President Obama spent the day playing golf,” Trump tweeted on Oct. 13, 2014.

U.S. judge finds Texas voter ID law was intended to discriminate

By Ian Simpson. Reuters

Vote Here sign

A Texas law that requires voters to show identification before casting ballots was enacted with the intent to discriminate against black and Hispanic voters, a U.S. federal judge ruled on Monday.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos came after an appeals court last year said the 2011 law had an outsized impact on minority voters. The court sent the case back to Ramos to determine if lawmakers intentionally wrote the legislation to be discriminatory.
Ramos said in a 10-page decision that evidence “establishes that a discriminatory purpose was at least one of the substantial or motivating factors behind passage” of the measure.
“The terms of the bill were unduly strict,” she added.
Spokesmen for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Jr. and Governor Greg Abbott, both Republicans, could not be reached for comment.
In January, after the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, Paxton said it was a common sense law to prevent voter fraud.
The ruling on voter ID comes about a month after two federal judges ruled that Texas lawmakers drew up three U.S. congressional districts to undermine the influence of Hispanic voters.
The measure requires voters to present photo identification such as a driver’s license, passport or military ID card.
Plaintiffs have argued the law hits elderly and poorer voters, including minorities, hardest because they are less likely to have identification. They contend the measure is used by Republicans to suppress voters who typically align with Democrats.
The legislation has been in effect since 2011 despite the legal challenges.
Ramos said the law had met criteria set by the U.S. Supreme Court to show intent that included its discriminatory impact, a pattern not explainable on other than racial grounds, Texas’ history of discriminatory practices and the law’s unusually swift passage.
Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, one of the plaintiffs, said the ruling showed other states that discriminatory laws would not stand up to legal scrutiny.
“This is a good ruling that confirms what we have long known, that Texas’ voter ID law stands as one of the most discriminatory voting restrictions of its kind,” she said.
In a shift from its stance under former President Barack Obama, the U.S. Justice Department dropped a discrimination claim against the law in February. The department said that the state legislature was considering changing the law in ways that might correct shortcomings.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley out; Kay Ivey in:

By Kent Faulk | al.com

 

Kay Ivey sworn
Kay Ivey sworn in as Alabama’s new Governor

Within a span of minutes, Alabama’s lieutenant governor catapulted from a position of largely ceremonial duties to the state’s top political job. But new Republican Gov. Kay Ivey has decades of experience working in, and around, state politics. Ivey was the second woman to serve as Governor of Alabama.
After she was sworn in Monday, the 72-year-old Ivey called it a dark day in Alabama but one of opportunity. “I ask for your help and patience as we together steady the ship of state and improve Alabama’s image,” she said.
Ivey grew up in Wilcox County, the same rural area where U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was raised, and the two attended high school together.
She graduated from Auburn University in 1967 and has worked as a classroom teacher, banker, administrator in higher education and assistant director of the state’s industrial recruitment agency.
She worked for then-Gov. Fob James in early 1980s, serving as first as executive assistant for social services and then as assistant director of the Alabama Development Office. “She would persevere to always get the job done at a high level. She always wanted to know the details,” James said. “She’s got a lot of political know-how by now.”

As state treasurer, Ivey oversaw the Alabama Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Plan, which was heavily invested in stocks. Turmoil on Wall Street caused its assets to plunge as tuition costs rose to the point of the plan becoming insolvent. Critics blamed her for the demise, but Ivey’s defenders said she had no control over Wall Street and tuition costs.
As the Senate’s president and presiding officer as lieutenant governor, Ivey acted as a moderator who didn’t offer opinions on legislation but instead directed the procedural flow in her signature honey-dripping drawl, cutting off senators whose speeches have gone on too long or namedropping distinguished guests in the gallery.

Bentley makes plea deal and resigns
Former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley doesn’t get a security detail or any other retirement benefits and can’t run again for public office under the plea deal he worked out with prosecutors to keep from being charged with any serious crimes.
Bentley resigned Monday before he pleaded guilty to failing to file a major campaign contribution report regarding a $50,000 personal loan he made in November 2015 to his campaign but did not report until January of this year. He also pleaded guilty to a charge of converting campaign contributions to personal use for paying $8,912 in legal fees for his senior political adviser – and love interest – Rebekah Mason.
A judge sentenced Bentley to 30 days in jail but suspended it and ordered the former governor to serve a year of probation. He will also have to do 100 hours of community service, as a physician.
Bentley, 74, agreed not to seek or serve again in any public office under his plea deal with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.
The two charges Bentley pleaded guilty to Monday were both misdemeanor campaign violations and would not otherwise have prevented him from serving in public office, said John Carroll, professor at the Cumberland School of Law.
The plea agreement appeared to be straightforward, Carroll said. “The prosecutors seemed like they wanted to get it done and put it behind the state,” he said.

Debutante Ball 2017

The Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated will be having the 32nd Debutante Ball on Saturday, April 1, 2017 at the Eutaw Activity Center in Eutaw, AL. The theme this year is “Timeless Memories.” Twelve lovely young ladies from Greene and Hale counties will be making their debut. The 2017 Debutantes are Yasmeen Amerson of Clinton, AL, the daughter of Nathan and Barbara Hunter and Edward Jordan; Sabrina French of Boligee, AL, the daughter of Larry and Rhonda French; Jameria Hood of Boligee, AL, the daughter of Frank Lewis and Loretta Hood; LeTerreia Hutton of Eutaw, AL, the daughter of Terry Hutton and Lemi Smith; Latricia Jackson of Newbern, AL, the daughter of Patricia Jackson; Taleah Richardson of Boligee, AL, the daughter of Taurus and Kendra Washington; Dextrina Ryans of Greensboro, AL, the daughter of Dexter Ryans and Diane Lewis; Lauren Smith of Boligee, AL, the daughter of Floyd and Loretta Wilson and Richard Smith; Kelsey Spencer of Eutaw, AL, the daughter of Stephanie Spencer; Kwanza Watkins of Eutaw, AL, the daughter of Milton Watkins and April Hunter; Chiquita Williams of Gainesville, AL, the daughter of Gregory and Bobbie Williams; Jasmine Williams of Forkland, AL, the daughter of Rosie Robinson.
All former Debutantes of Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated are invited. Formal attire for all invited guests will be strictly enforced for admission.

Eutaw City Council continues discussion of Housing Authority appointments, water and street improvements

Benison & Chief

Officer Jimmie Benison and Police Chief Derick Coleman

 

At its March 14, 2017 meeting, the Eutaw City Council reaffirmed the appointment of three members: Jackie Allen (resident representative replacing LaTasha Johnson), Bertha Hunter and Mary Wray to the Eutaw Housing Authority.
Mayor Raymond Steele says he is following the statutes of Alabama, which empower the Mayor to name members of the Housing Authority Board of Directors, communicate his selections to the Council and have the notification recorded in the minutes.
Steele says he appointed new members to replace those appointed by former Mayor Hattie Edwards because her appointments were made in the waning days of her term and never recorded in the city council’s minutes. Due to a lack of a quorum, the last council meeting of Edwards’s term, near the end of October 2016 was never held, so her appointments were never officially recorded in the minutes.
The composition of the Eutaw Housing Authority Board is important to the continuing negotiations over merging the Eutaw and County Housing Authority boards and staffs which has been mandated by HUD, which funds both authorities.
Mayor Steele contends that since all of the public housing units are now in the city of Eutaw, that under the law he has sole discretion to appoint members of the merged authority. The Greene County Commission disputes this and wants an amalgamated board with appointments by both the city and the county. The districts of three of the Commissioners, Districts 1, 2 and 3, have constituents within the city of Eutaw.

Other municipalities within Greene County – Forkland, Boligee and Union are also interested in public housing development and desire consideration by the merged housing authority board. Mayor Steele says these towns can contract with the merged board for support and development of units if they have suitable land with the required water and sewer services.
The Eutaw City Council has through its Attorney, Ken Aycock, requested a State Attorney General’s opinion on the laws governing housing authorities and the selection of board members for the merged entity.
The Council also approved a motion suggested by Councilman Joe L. Powell that the Council not incurs any legal costs for defending its member selections to the Eutaw Housing Authority Board until the Attorney General’s opinion is received and permission is granted by the Council to pursue legal actions. This motion was approved over the Mayor’s objections.
Mayor Steele also gave a report on projects underway in the city. He stated that the water project was moving forward with installation of the new lines on Mesopotamia Street; a six inch water line will be extended to the Lock 7 Road; and work on constructing a new tank to replace the one behind City Hall, will begin soon. Soft wear to read new digital self-reporting water meters has been purchased and the installation of these new meters is among the remaining work to be done to complete the USDA sponsored water improvement project.
Steele also said work was done to patch roads in Branch Heights but the full repair and resurfacing of those roads would cost $1.8 million. He said he was working with grant writers to seek funding for this work from ALDOT and the Delta Regional Authority. He also said that the Prairie Avenue Project was almost complete with the exception of striping for parking.
After the Mayor’s report, several Council members advanced road and drainage projects in their districts, which needed immediate attention. The Council approved the payment of bills and claims for the month of February.
Police Chief, Derick Coleman, introduced Jimmie Benison, former Greene County Sheriff’s Deputy as a new police officer on the city police force.

GCH Lady Tigers advance to Central Regional basketball play-offs in Montgomery

Girls Basketball team.jpgThe Greene County High Lady Tigers celebrate their 51 – 43 victory over the Beulah High School Lady Bobcats in a Sub-Regional basketball contest held Monday, February 13, 2017 in Eutaw. The GCHS Lady Tigers will progress to the Central Regional at Alabama State University in Montgomery on February 18, 2017. The Lady Tigers won the Class 3A Area 7 Championship Friday, November 10, 2016. The Greene County High School Boys basketball team are the Class 3A Area 7 Runner-up. They will travel to Central High School in Coosa County Tuesday to compete in a Sub-Regional game. The game will begin at 7:00 p.m.