Greene County Sheriff changes bingo distribution rules  County Commission no longer receives funding from bingo

Shown above Greene County School Supintendent Dr. Corey Jones, Boligee  City Coucilwoman Ernestine Wade, Representing the City of Eutaw, Larry Sandford, Union City Councilwoman Rosie Davis, Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison, Forkland clerk Lynette Woods, Representing the Greene County Hospital Board Chair John Zippert and Bingo Clerk Minnie Byrd.

The September 2019 bingo distribution did not include funds for the Greene County Commission. The Commission had been receiving approximately $72,000 per month, funds provided by only three of the currently four operating bingo entities in the county including Greenetrack, Inc., River’s Edge and Frontier Bingo Parlors. The Palace bingo facility does not contribute any funds to the County Commission.
In his rule change dated September 30, 2019, Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison stated that the Greene County Commission has refused to provide responses to the Sheriff’s repeated requests for information on the Commission’s use of bingo funds during the previous three years.
According to County Commission records, approximately 60% of the bingo resources provided to the county are earmarked for matching funds required for ALDOT (Alabama Department of Transportation) and ATRIP grants awarded to the county, with the remaining funds used for continuing county road projects. According to the County CFO Paula Bird, regular reports on bingo funds received are submitted to the Sheriff’s office.

Greenetrack, Inc., Frontier and River’s Edge each provided $24,000 in the September distribution for the Greene County Commission which was withheld by Sheriff Benison, who indicated in his distribution report that this amount, totaling $72,000, would be placed in trust.
For the month of September, the Sheriff’s Department reported a total distribution of $357,960 from the four licensed bingo gaming operations in the county.  The bingo distributions for September are contributed by Greenetrack, Inc., Frontier, River’s Edge and Palace. 
  The recipients of the monthly distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Benison in his Bingo Rules and Regulations currently include the 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).  
   Greenetrack, Inc. gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, -$0-(no distribution); Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, the Greene County Health System, $7,500.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $-0-(no distribution); Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, Greene County Health System, $7,500.  
River’s Edge (Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $73,300 to the following: Greene County Commission, $-0-(no distribution); Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, and the Greene County Health System,  $11,600.
    Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $151,360 to the following: Greene County Commission, $-0- (no distribution); Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $80,960; City of Eutaw, $24,640; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $7,040; Greene County Board of Education, $7,040 and the Greene County Health System, $17,600. 

Newswire: Lewis Hamilton wins record-tying sixth Formula 1 World Driving Championship

by BlackmansStreet.Today

Lewis Hamilton with race car

Black British racing car driver Lewis Hamilton on Sunday won a record-tying sixth Formula One championship.
Hamilton, who drives for the Mercedes racing team, earned 381 points to the 314 for Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas’ and 249 points for Ferrari’s Charles Lecleric.

Hamilton finished second to Bottas in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, but Hamiltom’s wins and finishes throughout the season will make it impossible for Bottas to outpoint him although two more races remain in the season—Brazil Grand Prix (November 17) and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (December 1).

“Cloud nine doesn’t even get close to where I am – I’m somewhere far above that,” said Hamilton. Formula 1 is the world’s highest form of automobile racing.

The 2019 F1 racing season began March 17 with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Hamilton won the world driving championship in 2008, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Hamilton joins Michael Schumacher as the only other driver to win as many as six F1 championship titles.

Hamilton was born January 7, 1985, in Stevenage, England. His parents are Anthony Hamilton and Carmen Larbalestier. He has one of four children; he has a brother and two sisters. This year, he has a reported net worth of $285 million. His full name is Lewis Carl Hamilton.

His father named in honor of sprinter Carl Lewis, winner of nine Olympic gold medals. Lewis was vilified by some in the U.S. Black community because he is gay.

“Still I Rise” is written across the back of Hamilton’s racing helmet and tattooed across his shoulders. The quote is from a poem written in 1978 by Maya Angelou.

Whats Happening

*Greene County Hospital will host a
Ribbon Cutting at 11:30 a.m. for new
ER Department
Thursday, October 24, 2019


*Greene Co. Associates
Black Belt Community Foundation
are holding a YARD SALE
Saturday , October 26, 2019
8:00 a.m to 2:00 p.m.
in front of Imagine Me Bldg.
(Boligee Street)
on Old Courthouse Square


*Love’s Truck Stop and Travel
Center opens October 24

Newswire : Harvard study: Black men sentenced to longer prison terms after being convicted of the same crimes as white men

By Frederick H. Lowe, Blackman’sStreet

Federal prisoners by race. Source: Federal Bureau of Prison

Republican-appointed judges on the federal bench sentence Black men to longer prison terms compared with white men convicted of the same crime, according to a study by the Harvard Law School.

The report also found that Black judges impose shorter sentences on average than non-Black judges.

However, in Chicago, where the first African-American judge was appointed to federal bench in 1961, there hasn’t been a Black man on the federal bench since 2012, Crain’s Chicago Business reported in January 2016. James Benton Parsons was appointed to bench by President John F. Kennedy.

The study “Judicial Politics and Sentencing Decisions,” reported that the racial disparity in sentencing decisions contributes to the fact that black defendants comprise a disproportionate fraction of the prison population relative to their percentage of the overall population.” The Federal Bureau of Prisons reported Saturday, May 26, that blacks comprised 37.8 percent of the prison population. Blacks comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population.

Over 95 percent of criminal convictions result from guilty pleas. Once a plea deal is reached and accepted by the judge, the judge schedules sentencing.

Black offenders were sentenced to 4.8 months more in prison compared to similar non-black offenders, reported the study of Republican – and Democratic-appointed federal judges.

Prison sentences have grown for federal inmates from 17.9 months in 1988 to 37.5 months in 2012 for violent, property, drug, public order, weapon and immigration crimes, according to Pew Research Center.

In comparison, women offenders receive 12.1 fewer months in prison compared to male offenders. Defendants withchildren are sentenced to longer terms in prison than defendants with fewer dependents.

To arrive at its findings, researchers at Harvard Law School studied the sentencing data of more than 546,916 federal defendants linked to federal judges. Harvard studied defendants sentenced between 1999 and 2015 and they observed the sentencing practices of approximately 1,400 unique judges.

“Male defendants are sentenced to substantially longer time in prison than female defendants even after accounting for arrest offense and criminal history,” the report said.
There are 677 authorized federal judgeships in 94 district courts as of 2017, Harvard reported. Most of the districts have between two and seven authorized judgeships.

At Forkland Town Hall Meeting: Terri Sewell says she is part of a nine member Congressional Commission on the USMCA (NAFTA 2.0) Trade agreement

Congresswoman Sewell surrounded by young people who attended her Town Hall meeting in Forkland, Alabama

On Saturday, July 13, 2019, Congresswoman Terri Sewell held a “Congress in Your Community” meeting at the Forkland Town Hall, attended by more than 50 community residents.
As part of her report, Congresswoman Sewell announced that she was appointed by Speaker Pelosi, to a special nine member commission, to review the U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (also known as NAFTA 2.0) before its ratification by Congress. Sewell said, “ I will soon be traveling to Mexico City for discussions on this new trade agreement.

I want to be sure American workers are protected with labor and environmental standards.” She said she was particularly concerned about Trump’s proposed tariffs on automobile parts, which would drive up automobile prices and could reduce the American workforce in states like Alabama.
On healthcare, Sewell said she was supporting improvements to the existing Affordable Care Act by reducing deductibles and premiums, including for pharmaceutical drug prices. She says she strongly supports Medicaid Expansion, which Alabama’s Republican Governor and Legislature have refused to adopt. “Due to partisan politics state officials have left $7 billion over ten years on the table to be used by other states,” says Sewell.
Sewell said she was concerned that Republican controlled states were suing in Federal courts to declare the ACA unconstitutional. “This will mean that 1.9 million Alabamians would loose their protection for pre-existing conditions and almost 200,000 would loose their healthcare insurance coverage all together,” said Sewell.
She and Senator Doug Jones have introduced legislation to incentivize states to pursue Medicaid Expansion, but this legislation is tied up in committee because none of the 14 states remaining, who have not agreed to Medicaid Expansion, have indicated interest in changing their positions, “If Alabama wants to adopt Medicaid Expansion, we may be able to get this legislation passed,” said Sewell.
Congresswoman Sewell said she was prepared to vote for an increase in the Federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour, adopted ten years ago in 2009, to $15 an hour in stages over the next five years. “ Workers have lost 18% in purchasing power over the past decade. This bill will give 45% of Alabamians a pay raise! While I proposed a regional minimum wage, which would be more equitable and help small businesses to be competitive, I will be voting for this bill,” says the Congresswoman.
Sewell said her bill (HR4) the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which restores the preclearance provisions stripped from the 1965 Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court’s Shelby vs. Holder decision, will soon be voted on and passed by the House of Representatives. The bill would create an updated formula to qualify states for preclearance for voting rights changes.”14 states would be qualified under the new formula for modern day voting rights violations since 1990, “ says Sewell.
“Unfortunately, Mitch McConnell, Republican leader of the Senate and his colleagues will not allow a vote on any of the progressive legislation, we have passed in the House of Representatives. The voters in 2020 will have to act to change this deadlock,” said Sewell.
The Congresswoman took questions from the audience, posed for photos with many constituents and spoke with officials of the Town of Forkland before leaving Greene County.

Greene County Commission agrees to sell park to Town of Forkland

The Greene County Commission held its regular meeting on Monday July 8, 2019 at 6:00 PM at the William B. Branch Courthouse. Four of the five commissioners were present, Ms. Roshonda Summerville was absent.
The Commission voted to approve sale of the Forkland Park to the Town of Forkland for fair market value. In the public comments section, Joe Tuck, Forkland City Council member said, “ On behalf of the Town of Forkland, we want to thank the Commissioners for agreeing to sell us the Forkland Park. We intend to do a good job in fixing up and running the park for the people in and around Forkland.”
Mayor Charlie McAlpine of Forkland, who also attended the Commission meeting, said to this reporter at the end of the meeting, “We will work with the Commission, to get an appraisal of the park, so we can establish the fair market value and complete the purchase for the residents.”
The Commission received a financial report for the month of June 2019, from CFO Paula Bird, which showed bank deposits of $5,734,247 in local banks and $933,776 in sinking funds for bond payment and $955,253 in other bond funds in the Bank of New York. Bond funds were used to build the Courthouse and jail.
Ms. Bird also explained that we were at the 75% point in the Commission’s fiscal year and most agencies spending were within this range. Those agencies with spending more than 75% of their budgets had clear explanations for the over spending. Commissioner Brown warned that if the Sheriff’s Department had overtime exceeding its budget then other budgetary adjustments would need to be made within the limits of the total budget.
Ms. Bird reported that $566,992 in claims had been paid for the month of June and an additional $76,466 had been paid in electronic payments on obligations.
The Commission allowed the County Engineer to solicit bids for temperature control at the Courthouse; advertise and hire a driver for the solid waste department; and approved travel for the Engineer and Assistant Engineer to attend conferences and training.In other business, the Commission approved:
• re-appointment of Reginald Spencer to the E-911 Board;

• tabled appointment to the Hospital Board for District 2;

• request from the
Society of Folk Arts and Culture for use of the
Courthouse bathrooms for the Black Belt Folk
Roots Festival on August 24 and 25, 2019; and

• report from the Revenue Commissioner correcting the 2018 tax collection data.

The Greene County Commission recessed the meeting until July 17, 2019 at 3:45 PM. Several items discussed in the July 3, 2019 Commission Work Session were not discussed and may be the subject of the continuation meeting.
These items included an issue with the Sheriff saying he was not fully reimbursed by funds provided by the Board of Education for the cost of safety officers assigned to the schools and issues concerning the future of the Greene County Ambulance Service. The two main employees of the Ambulance Service announced to the Commission that they planned to retire on July 31 and arrangements will need to be made to keep the ambulance service in operation.