When White people get a cold, Black people get pneumonia SOS holds press conference at Alabama State Capitol steps to highlight health disparities and advocate for immediate expansion of Medicaid

Montgomery, AL: The Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy (SOS), held a witness and press conference on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol, on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. The witness by SOS leaders, standing six feet apart, was to highlight the disparities in health impacts for Black and other minority communities caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
SOS advocated to Governor Kay Ivey and state leaders to immediately expand Medicaid to provide insurance coverage to over 340,000 working people in the state of Alabama as a meaningful response to the corona virus pandemic.
SOS also urged state and local leaders to release all non-violent offenders in prison and persons held in jails for failure to make bail, as a humanitarian response to the coronavirus pandemic since adequate social distancing is not possible for incarcerated people in Alabama’s overcrowded prisons.
Attorney and former Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders said: “Unfortunately, the reality is that when White people get colds in our society, Black people and other Minorities get pneumonia. The coronavirus has shined a blinding light on this longstanding reality. Because the coronavirus is much more contagious and deadly than pneumonia, Black people and Minorities are at much greater risks from the coronavirus. The time to address these inequities and disparities is now.”
Community Advocate Karen Jones said: “The statistics are overwhelming in showing the greater and deadlier impact on Black and other minority communities when it comes to the coronavirus. The statistics for today from the Alabama Department of Public Health show that 43% of the 3,800 people who have tested positive for coronavirus are Black and that 53% of the 99 deaths attributed to the virus are Black. This is in a state where 25% of the population overall is Black. These are cold, hard facts. This is an opportunity not only to act to save lives now – but also to save lives in the future. Alabama must seize this opportunity now and expand Medicaid.”
Attorney and Civil Rights Advocate Faya Toure said: “Black and other Minorities are hit by the quintuple whammies of: (1) poverty; (2) lack of health care and access to care due in large part to the failure to expand Medicaid in states that have greater Black and Minority populations; (3) difficulty in securing health insurance due to cost and jobs that do not provide health care; (4) jobs that expose them to greater risk of contacting the coronavirus; and (5) closer living spaces, whether that is in the home, the community or in our prisons and jails.”
Founder of the World Conference of Mayors and former Tuskegee Mayor and State Representative Johnny Ford said: “The United States is testing fewer than one percent of our population, and Alabama is testing at an even lower rate. Alabama is also testing at the lowest rate in Black and other Minority communities.
In fact, the Alabama Department of Public Health has only held one day of very limited testing in two Black Belt counties Bullock County on April 3rd and Lowndes County on April 7th – out of 18 Alabama Black Belt counties. ADPH limited testing to people (1) who are symptomatic with either a fever, cough or shortness of breath and (2) who also are immune-compromised or have comorbidity, 65 years or older, a healthcare worker or associated with a long-term healthcare facility. That was it for the Black Belt. That must change NOW.”
SOS Health Care Committee co-chair and Chair of the Greene County Health System John Zippert said: “The State of Alabama and the federal government must direct resources to the communities where the greater likelihood of death and serious illness exist. This includes testing, medical care, data collection and more. And by testing, we mean mass testing because that is the only way to detect and prevent mass spread of this virus. We cannot get ahead of the virus until we begin mass testing.”
Zippert also said, “Gov. Ivey must immediately expand Medicaid coverage to the working poor, up to 138% of the poverty level, to help insure that more small rural hospitals will be able to remain open in the state to serve people during and after the pandemic. Most rural hospitals in the state are running at a financial deficit because they are serving people who would otherwise be covered by insurance secured through Medicaid expansion.”
Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan added that data from a Pew Charitable Trusts report released yesterday had very disturbing findings, including: “It looks increasingly likely the South will endure more death and economic loss from COVID-19 than any other region in the country – and not just because Southern governors were slow to shut down businesses and order people to stay at home. Southern poverty rates are high, social welfare programs spotty and health care infrastructure threadbare.
Last year, 120 rural U.S. hospitals closed their doors; 75 of them were in the South. And emerging data from some cities and states shows that Black people – more than half of whom live in the South – are contracting and dying from the virus at a disproportionately high rate.”
For more information on the work of the Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy, visit http://www.saveourselvesmovement@gmail.com.

School board holds emergency meeting, confirming plans to provide for students during virus epidemic

Robert Brown Middle School personnel review instructional packets for students. Shown L to R: Principal Owens, 4th Grade Teacher, Annie Howard and Assistant Principal Harris.
Child Nutrition Program personnel distribute meals for students outside Robert Brown Middle School.
CNP school personnel gather meals packaged for distribution from Robert Brown Middle School.
LaTonya Fowler, Board’s Central Office personnel, assists in distributing food packets to children.

The Greene County Board of Education held an emergency meeting, Thursday, March 19, 2020, to consider resolutions joining the state and federal government in declaring an emergency due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus epidemic. The resolutions authorized the school superintendent to take all actions, including the provision of food for schools children and instructional materials consistent with the declared emergency and the needs of the Greene County Board of Education during this emergency from March 19, 2020 until further notice.
The resolutions adopted by the board also declare that schools are closed in compliance with Governor Kay Ivey’s order until further notice and the March 24, 2020 scheduled meeting of the board is also cancelled.
In his update to the board, Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones stated that during Spring break week of March 16, all school facilities were given a thorough cleaning and sanitizing stations were set up in classroom and hallways for the future return of students and personnel.
According to Dr. Jones, the school system will provide two meals per day for all students in the duration of the school shutdown. He indicated that USDA has authorized the school system to operate the food distribution comparable to the Summer Feeding Program which allows meals to be served to youth ages 1-18.
In compliance with Superintendent Jones guidance, each school has instituted plans for delivering food and instructional materials to students. In the food program, students are provided two meals each day with distributions scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Parents may drive to the schools for meals and some meals will be delivered to various designated venues in the community. The detailed delivery schedule is listed in this newspaper as well as on the school’s web site and other relevant social media.
For Greene County High School students, the majority of teachers sent enrichment activities via email or Google Classroom. A few teachers prepared instructional packets which were delivered on Monday.
Eutaw Primary School delivered instructional packets on Monday and Tuesday. Robert Brown Middle School had packets available for parents to pick up on Wednesday. Instructional packets can be delivered in any situation where parents are not able to come to the school.
Dr. Jones informed the board that the system will continue its financial obligations. Payroll and bills will be paid in a timely manner. Personnel not on direct deposit plans will have paychecks sent through postal mail. “Traditional business of the school system will be handled as efficiently as possible,” Jones stated. He clarified that usual bid laws can be suspended regarding emergency purchases.
Superintendent Jones indicated that no determination can be made at this time as to meeting schedules for particular school activities such as prom and graduation. “We just don’t know how long this medical emergency will last. I urged our community to take every precaution to keep safe and avoid contracting the virus.”

Groundbreaking held for Love’s Travel Center at Interstate 20/59 Exit 40 Eutaw

Officials participating in groundbreaking (L. to R.): Kenneth Boswell (ADECA), Rep. Ralph Howard. Senator Bobby Singleton, Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele, Governor Kay Ivey, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Jenny Love Meyer, Rep. A. J. McCampbell, Bill Gleason (Love’s), Eutaw Council members Joe Lee Powell, Sheila H. Smith, Bennie Abrams, LaJeffrey Carpenter, and Danny Cooper (GCIDA)

On Monday, October 15, 2018, a groundbreaking was held for a Love’s Travel Center and Country Store, near the location of the new business on the Southside of the Interstate 20/59 Exit 40 on Highway 14 coming into the City of Eutaw.The mid-morning groundbreaking was attended by Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Legislative delegation members, Senator Bobby Singleton, Rep. A. J. McCampbell and Rep. Ralph Howard, members of the Eutaw City Council, Greene County Commission and other state and local agencies involved as well as Jenny Love Meyer and William “Bill “ Gleason representing the Love’s corporation. The new $12.5 million travel stop will be built on a 13.9-acre site and is expected to bring an estimated 43 jobs to the area with a projected 1,000 trucks per day. The new Love’s will be one of the largest Love’s sites in Alabama and will include a Hardee’s, Godfather’s Pizza, and Chester’s Chicken. The Eutaw location will also consist of 96 parking spaces for professional drivers, with the possibility of future expansion for more parking spaces. Councilman Joe Lee Powell welcomed the over 250 people assembled for the groundbreaking ceremony by stating, “You are welcome in Eutaw the Gateway to the Alabama Black Belt.” Rev. John Hodges, Pastor of the Saint Mathew Baptist Church in Boligee gave the invocation. Congresswoman Terri Sewell thanked all the groups and agencies present for their contributions to make the project a success. “We thank Love’s for bringing jobs to the Alabama Black Belt where they are greatly needed. We can assure you that people are our greatest asset – their strength, their intellect and their heart, which will become part of this project.” State Senator Bobby Singleton said, “this is a great day for Eutaw and Greene County. This project is a gamechanger that will bring new jobs and open opportunities for other development and jobs.” State Representatives A. J. McCampbell and Ralph Howard, who represent Greene County, echoed these same sentiments. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said, “This is an exciting day for this county, when Greene County wins, Alabama wins.” She reviewed her success in bring 16,000 jobs to Alabama since she became Governor. “We are working to make groundbreakings like this an everyday occurrence in Alabama. We know that Love’s has 14 locations in Alabama, especially in rural locations like this one. We wish them success in providing drivers a quality and safe place to rest and refuel,” she said. Jenny Love Meyer speaking for the Love’s Company said, “This will be one of 470 locations around the nation that will bear our family name. We started in Oklahoma to build clean and friendly places for truckers and other travelers. We know this new location will live up to our company’s mission and vision.” William ‘Bill’ Gleason, Real Estate Property Manager for Love’s, who was instrumental in finding the location, said, “ Our travel centers have no wheels under them. Once we build, we are with you to stay!” Mayor Raymond Steele thanked everyone involved in the project, including ADECA, Delta Regional Authority, USDA Rural Development Greene County Industrial Development Authority and the West Alabama Regional Planning Agency who provided funds and direction to extended sewage and other utilities to the Exit 40 site. The Mayor also thanked the Eutaw City Council, the Greene County Commission, Jamie Banks family, who sold the land for the project and many others for making the project possible. “We hope that this is just the beginning for new jobs and growth in our community. With this project, we have a chance to move forward together and open other new opportunities for the people of our area,” said Mayor Steele, before a large group of the invited dignitaries put their golden shovels in the ground to turn over the dirt symbolizing the start of the project.

ANSA endorses Attorney Doug Jones, Birmingham, in the Democratic Primary for U. S. Senate on August 15

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Candidate Doug Jones with Greene County Commissioner Michael Williams (Dist. 5) at the ANSA screening

 

After a screening meeting with seven candidates for the position of U. S. Senator from Alabama, the Alabama New South Alliance unanimously endorsed Attorney Doug Jones of Birmingham for this position, in the statewide Democratic Primary set for August 15, 2017.
This is a special election, prescribed by Governor Kay Ivey to fill the U. S. Senate seat that was vacated by Jefferson Beauregard Sessions when he was selected to be U. S. Attorney General Luther Strange was appointed by Governor Robert Bentley to occupy this seat until the special election. Strange is running for the position in the Republican primary against several challengers including former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, congressman Mo Brooks, and eight others.
“It was the unanimous consensus of our ANSA Screening Committee to endorse Doug Jones for this U. S. Senate position, in the Democratic Primary, in the Special Election on August 15, 2017. He met all of the criteria that we set up to measure candidates and he gave strong answers to a wide array of questions raised by our committee,” said Sharon Calhoun, Co-Chair of ANSA.
Doug Jones was the former U. S. Attorney for North Alabama, based in Birmingham from 1997 to 2002. He was appointed by President Clinton and confirmed by a Republican controlled Senate.

Jones is best known for the successful prosecution of those responsible for killing four young girls in the 1963 Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing.
In 2002, Jones was the lead prosecutor in the case that won murder convictions against Thomas Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry for the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church that killed four girls. The convictions came nearly 40 years after the 1963 bombing.
Jones also worked on the indictment of Birmingham abortion clinic bomber Eric Robert Rudolph, whose 1998 attack killed an off-duty police officer and severely injured a clinic nurse. Rudolph, who also placed a bomb at the Atlanta Olympics, was captured and convicted after Jones left office.
Jones has worked in private practice in Birmingham for the past 15 years and represented various clients including former Jefferson County Commissioner Chris McNair and others in various cases.
Jones said in his interview that Alabama officials spend too little time focused on the real concerns of the people — jobs, health care and education — and instead have “played on our fears and exploited our divisions for their own self interests.”
“We need leaders who people can talk to, reason with, and trust even if they don’t agree on every political position. We need leaders who people can talk to, reason with, and trust even if they don’t agree on every political position.”
Jones indicated that his work on the Birmingham church bombing cases had gained him a national following and reputation which would help in fundraising and support for his Senate race.
He told the ANSA Screening Committee, “ I want to work to use this Senate race to reinvigorate the Democratic Party in Alabama. This will be a transformational race and hopefully it will open the doors for the 2018 state races for Governor and Legislature.”
Seven candidates appeared before the ANSA Screening Committee on Saturday. They included six Democrats and one Republican. The Democrats in addition to Doug Jones were: Michael Hansen, Rev. Will Boyd, Jason E. Fisher, Vann Caldwell, and Brian McGee. The Republican was James Baretta.
“We want to encourage these candidates to stay active in the political process. We could only endorse one for this special election – but we will need many Democratic candidates in the 2018 election. We encourage these candidates to remain active with ANSC and ANSA and prepare for future elections,” said Gus Townes, ANSA Co-Chair.
For more information on the ANSA endorsement contact: Ms. Shelley Fearson – 334/262-0932

ANSC to hold Spring Convention in Montgomery on Saturday June 10

 

Doug Jones, Sue Bell Cobb and Walt Maddox

 

The Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC) is holding its Spring Membership Convention on Saturday June 10, 2017 from 8:00 Am to 3:00 PM at the Wind Creek Casino, Rambling Hall on Eddie L. Tullis Road in Montgomery.
The ANSC is a progressive statewide political organization, formed in 1985-86, in the aftermath of the Rev. Jesse Jackson campaign for President to work for a “Change for the Better – in Our Lifetime” in Alabama. The ANSC’s sister organization, the Alabama New South Alliance endorses candidates running for state and local offices in Alabama.
The membership convention will have luncheon remarks by three Democratic candidates, who expressed interest in running for Governor of Alabama in 2018 – former U. S. Attorney, Doug Jones, former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Sue Bell Cobb and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox.

After the planning and invitations went out, Governor Kay Ivey decided to hold a special election for the U. S. Senate seat, vacated by Jeff Sessions, in November of 2017. Doug Jones then decided to run for this seat. Other Democratic and Republican candidates for the U. S. Senate seat will also be introduced and have a chance to address the group.
There will be two panels in the morning for members. The first will be about strategies for voter engagement, registration, education and turnout. The second will be a group of younger members of ANSC speaking about how to interest, attract and involve younger people in community building and change activities.
Senator Hank Sanders will give a talk on the “Current Political Landscape in Alabama” to start the program. John Zippert, State President and other ANSC officers will comment and provide direction for the work of the organization.
The meeting is open to all members of ANSC and those interested in joining. The organization has active chapters around the state that will be bringing members to attend. The registration fee for the Convention, which includes breakfast and lunch, is $25.00. For more information, contact Shelley Fearson ANSC State Coordinator, at 334/262-0932 or email; ALNewSouth@aol.com.

Alabama Legislature completes rancorous session with unfinished business

1200px-Alabama_State_Capitol,_Montgomery,_West_view_20160713_1.jpgSpecial to the Democrat by: John Zippert, Co-Publisher

On Friday, May 19, 2017, the Alabama Legislature completed its annual regular session with continuing arguments on redistricting, a Monuments Bill to preserve Confederate sites, streets, schools and other public markers, childcare center licensing and prison construction.
Before the session began, two major leaders lost their positions. Speaker of the House Hubbard was convicted and jailed for corruption. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended and then removed for urging Alabama official to disregard and oppose the U. S. Supreme Court decision sanctioning same-sex marriage. During the session, Governor Robert Bentley resigned over an alleged affair with a female staffer rather than face impeachment. Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey became Governor.
The Legislature approved an Education and General Fund budget without many changes from previous years. A proposal to finance four new prisons, to respond to serious overcrowding in current corrections facilities was left stranded at the end of the session. Governor Kay Ivey may call a special session to deal with building new prisons. A proposal to increase the gas tax by 6 cents to bring Alabama in line with other states passed out of a House Committee but never reached a floor vote. The revenues are needed to support construction and improvement of roads and bridges in all Alabama counties.

The bill for a state lottery for education and other gaming reforms died when Governor Bentley gave up his office. The lottery and other revenue raising measures like the gas tax will be coming up again in the next regular session or special sessions.
The Legislature passed a bill that no monuments on public property for more than 40 years could be moved. The bill sets up a Historical Landmarks Commission to decide on monuments built during the period from 40 to 20 years ago. This bill was passed in reaction to the actions of other places in the South, like New Orleans, that moved monuments and statutes of Confederate leaders and generals from public places to private museums.
This legislation would prevent cities and counties from re-naming schools, streets, bridges and other facilities named for Confederates who fought the nation to maintain slavery in the Civil War. This legislation was passed by Republican super-majorities in both houses and is now siting on Governor Kay Ivey’s desk. If she does not sign it in ten days it will quietly die. Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC) and other civil rights and social justice organizations are urging the Governor not to sign this flawed and backwards moving bill. ANSC is urging its members to write or email Governor Ivey to urge her not to sign the Monuments Bill.
The Legislature failed to pass bills that would have regulated all day care centers and removed the waiver for centers connected to religious organizations. They did pass a law protecting faith based adoption agencies from placing children with same-sex couples, which Gov. Ivey signed. They did not pass a bill to allow carry of concealed weapons in all public places, which makes the state a little safer, although many in the Republican majority were pushing for this expansion of gun laws.
At the end of the session, the Legislature passed slightly modified redistricting plans for the Legislative Districts for the 2018 elections. The Federal courts found that the current plan was “stacking and pacing” Black voters in certain districts and some counties were divided in the process of formulating districts. The new plans drawn by the Republican majority, without input from Black and Democratic legislators, is not very different from the current plan. The Black Legislative Caucus leadership are planning to go back to court to fight these new plans.
During the legislative procedures and maneuvers to pass the redistricting plan, one House member, Lynn Greer, circulated an email with a story about “disciplining monkeys who were trying to eat bananas”. Many of the Black legislators felt this was a racist commentary about them and demanded an apology. Greer made a half-hearted apology before the session ended.