Eutaw City Council opens bids on surplus vehicles and property

Sheila Smith presenting a check for police car video systems to Police Chief Derick Coleman and Mayor Raymond Steele.

At its regular meeting on May 9, 2017, the Eutaw City Council opened bids on surplus vehicles and property that had been advertised for sale.
City Attorney Ken Aycock opened and read the bids at the meeting. The City Council approved a motion to sell the property to the highest bidder. All items save one, lot number 8 for a 2000 Ford Crown Victoria, were sold. The City realized approximately $6,000 from this sale, which can used toward the acquisition of new property.
The City Council meeting also included a motion by Council members LaTasha Johnson and LaJeffrey Carpenter to add four items to the agenda, which were discussed in a working session but were not included on the agenda distributed by Mayor Steele.

Most of these items dealt with financial matters.
Mayor Raymond Steele protested the addition of these items to the agenda.” You don’t respect me or my judgment. I have not had time to study these items before they are added ton the agenda,” said Steele. The Council members pointed out that Steele had not attended the working meeting and they wanted these items handled.
The items included, changing the check signers on the City Operating Accounts, making personnel policies and time sheets for employees available for review by Council members, placing funds from the bingo operations in a separate account from other funds for use for capital improvements required in the city, and fixing the roof and other aspects of the repair of the National Guard Armory in stages. These items were approved as a package.
In reviewing the bills and claims for the month of April, Council members asked many questions concerning the presentation of the accounting reports, the lack of a formal budget to measure expenditures against and spending of funds from the bingo account for general expenses instead of capital improvements. The Council agreed to have a working session on finances on May 16 to get a better handle on the city’s finances. Councilman Joe L. Powell moved that the Council pay the bills that were presented but not accept the financial report as presented until it is improved.
The Council approved the Municipal Water Participation and Procedures (MWPP) report for the past year and forwarded it on the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
Mayor Steele reported that the contractors were pouring the footings for the new water tower behind City Hall. “The tower should be complete in 9 to 12 months,“ said Steele.
Councilwoman Sheila H. Smith raised the question of whether all of the inoperable fire hydrants in Eutaw would be replaced by the USDA Rural Development Program Loan and Grant program. Mayor Steele said he was meeting with the project engineers and would bring up that question with them. He also said 1500 new self-reporting water meters would also be installed as part of the project.
Councilwomen Smith also asked about the procedure for using city land at the old swimming pool site on Highway 11 for vendors interested in participating in the Antique Alley program and sale. The Mayor said the vendors should make application with the City Clerk similar to use of the park and National Guard Armory.
LaJeffrey Carpenter raised issues on ditches and streets in his district that needed clearing as well as work needed at the entrance to the M&M Subdivision to make it more visible in relation to traffic on Highway 43.
At the end of the meeting Sheila Smith presented City Police Chief Derick Coleman a check for $1,871.75 from the Tommy Summerville Police Foundation for purchase of car video systems for each Eutaw police vehicle. These funds were generated for the Foundation from bingo operations at the new Palace facility.

NNPA exclusive: Bill Cosby finally breaks his silence

By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

billcosby_bcosby_web120.jpg

 Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby is blind. It’s been more than two years since the embattled, television and film legend, who was once known as “America’s Dad,” has spoken out publicly. During a recent interview with the NNPA Newswire, Cosby revealed that he’s lost his sight.
Waking one morning about two years ago, he nervously called out to Camille, his wife. “I can’t see,” he said. Doctors later confirmed the worst: that there was nothing that could be done to repair his vision.
“When he would perform, we’d draw a wide straight yellow line from backstage to the chair on the stage and he’d rehearse the walk, hours before the show,” said Andrew Wyatt of the Purpose PR firm, a public relations agency in Birmingham, Ala. Wyatt has worked with Cosby for years.
Wyatt said that his star client has decided that it’s time to talk. Together, Wyatt and Cosby said they grew comfortable that the NNPA Newswire would be more interested in “facts over sensationalism.”
Cosby has shunned most media inquiries, since allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced in late 2014; some of those accusations dated back almost fifty years. In 2015, According to CNN, Cosby was charged with three counts of felony aggravated assault in a case involving Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee.
Earlier this year, CNN reported that Cosby’s, “criminal sexual assault trial will stay in Montgomery County Court in Pennsylvania, but the jurors will come from another Pennsylvania county.” In February, a federal judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed against Cosby by accuser Katherine McKee, according to USA Today.
“This marks the third defamation lawsuit against Cosby that was either withdrawn or dismissed recently, prompting some Cosby crowing,” USA Today reported. “However, another defamation case against him, filed by six accusers, is still pending in the same federal court in Massachusetts.”
While the beleaguered superstar declined to address any of his legal cases, his youngest daughter, Evin felt compelled to speak out. In a statement, which can be read in its entirety on BlackPressUSA.com, Evin, 40, questioned the veracity of the allegations against her father.
“The harsh and hurtful accusations…that supposedly happened 40 or 50 years ago, before I was born, in another lifetime, and that have been carelessly repeated as truth without allowing my dad to defend himself and without requiring proof, has punished not just my dad but every one of us,” Evin said.
Devin T. Robinson X, an actor and renowned poet who’s been featured on MTV, NBC, CBS and BET, said that Bill Cosby represents the finest example of someone being found guilty in the court of public opinion without ever facing trial. “Punishing people before they’re convicted in court only seems accurate when it serves a media narrative that doesn’t hurt a specific demographic,” Robinson said.
Dr. E. Faye Williams, the president and CEO of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc., agreed. “If the President of the United States can go on working in the White House after he has bragged about doing gross, sexually-explicit and abusive things to women, without their permission, then justice requires that Bill Cosby should not be punished, unless he is convicted of crimes,” said Williams.
Perhaps, the closest Cosby came to addressing his ongoing legal battles during the interview was when he opined about the true history of America. “The history about African-Americans is a history of the United States; but the true histories, not the propaganda that is standard in our nation’s history books,” Cosby said. “The great writer, James Baldwin, said, ‘If you lie about me, then you lie about yourself.’ The revolution is in the home. There is something about someone saying, ‘I didn’t know that,’ that could cause a change in that person’s thinking.”
Cosby said he thinks about his illustrious career that, at least for now, has been placed on hold because of the court cases. Few have achieved the legendary status enjoyed by Cosby. His career has spanned more than six decades and includes a host of best-selling comedy albums and books, gold and platinum records, and five Grammy Awards.
With his role in “I-Spy” in the 1960s, Cosby became the first African-American co-star in a dramatic series, breaking TV’s color barrier and winning three Emmy Awards.
After starring opposite Academy Award winner Sidney Poitier in the 1970s trilogy, “Uptown Saturday Night,” “Let’s Do It Again,” and “A Piece of the Action,” Cosby’s star soared even higher in the 1980s when he single-handedly revived the family sitcom and, some argue, saved NBC with “The Cosby Show.”
“Darn right,” he said, when asked if he missed performing. “I miss it all and I hope that day will come. I have some routines and storytelling that I am working on. Cosby continued: “I think about walking out on stage somewhere in the United States of America and sitting down in a chair and giving the performance that will be the beginning of the next chapter of my career.”

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.