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Monday, February 8, 2016

Reference the Decatur Daily’s article, in the Riverfront February 7, 2016, on the Capital Notebook.

You may be wondering why we are blogging this story.  It clearly does not pertain to our county, does it?  Over the next four weeks we will be blogging about  the poor, the people of color, diversity, and inequality within the Morgan County Sheriff's Office.  Stay tuned.  FYI.  Don't know who did Ana's small statement on arrests this weekend, but she was out of town again.

WE will share excerpts of the story.  We believe this article deserves our utmost attention.  We apologize to the Decatur Daily if we accidentally misreported information from your article.  We will correct any inaccuracies.

The caption of the story is De-funding Planned Parenthood cost $101K.  Did any of you read the article?  OK! That question was rhetorical. 

According to the story Governor Bentley’s office paid about $50,000.00 to an outside attorney when the state was sued for pulling a few thousand dollars in funding from Planned Parenthood Southeast.  That in addition to $51,000.00 in legal fees paid to Planned Parenthood after a settlement was reached and Bentley agreed to restore funding.

According to the state Medicaid agency, only $4,351.37 was spent for contraceptive medication for fiscal year 2014 and 2015.   

Let us see if we can get this straight.  The governor’s office paid $101,000.00 out to Planned Parenthood and the governor’s litigation team because he decided to pull $4,351.37 to Planned Parenthood.  Does any government office in the state of Alabama trust the State Attorney General’s legal team to represent them in lawsuits?  Sure doesn’t sound like it! 

Does our governor have a problem with women on Medicaid, and we mean the poorest of the poor women of our state receiving financial assistance to pay for contraceptives?  The “governor’s office” should have found out during discovery in the case that Planned Parenthood was in compliance with state laws.  Meaning they had not participated in harvesting organs of unborn children and receiving reimbursement. 

You can’t really blame the “governor’s office” for seeking outside litigators.  We recall a story recently that Big Luther paid almost $100,000.00 in outside legal fees to a firm he hired to represent the AG’s office in the ethics charges against Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard.  Big Luther doesn’t appear to have a heck of a lot of trust in his legal team do so why should the governor?

If you total Big Luther’s outside litigation cost to date on the Speaker of the House at approximately 100K, and Governor Bentley’s settlement with Planned Parenthood and their attorneys, plus the outside litigation fees Bentley’s office paid to fight paying a mere $4,351.37 dollars that allowed the poorest of the poor women of our state to receive contraception, then the total expenditure to date for these two cases has cost approximately $200,113.00.

Perry County (Marion, Alabama) has 47 active cases of Tuberculosis in their tight knit community.  (See article #1 below) Governor Bentley authorized more than $200,000.00 to fight the Tuberculosis outbreak in Perry County.  Bentley and Strange have spent over $200,000.00 on just two legal cases recently.  There is no telling how much money they have spent on outside litigation since being sworn into office.  Yet the governor can only come up with $200K to fight an outbreak of Tuberculosis in Perry County, one of the poorest counties in Alabama.

When speaking at the State of the State Address about the poorest counties in Alabama, Governor Bentley called the statistics of poverty sobering when you look at the numbers county by county.  What is sobering is that Governor Bentley and Luther Strange both know how poor many of the counties are in the state. The funds that are being used to hire outside attorney’s vice using in-house attorneys to fight litigation is fraud, waste, and abuse of state money.  If these two leaders have no confidence in the State’s legal team, it is time to fire the whole bloody lot of them to include the AG and the Governor and send the money where it is needed the most. 

Article #1

MARION, Ala. (AP) – Public health officials in Alabama are working to contain a tuberculosis outbreak in southwest Alabama. They used federal money to pay for tests on more than 1,000 people in Perry County, which is one of the poorest counties in America.

Tuberculosis disease is a serious condition, but the ADPH emphasizes it is treatable with medication.

As of January 21, the total number of cases of TB disease reported since 2014 with a connection to Marion is 27.  Of these, 21 are residents of Perry County.  One new patient has been confirmed, and is not in the hospital but is doing well.

Forty-nine patients have tested positive for latent TB infection in Perry County since screening began on January 11.  Most have been started on preventive medicine.  They are not infectious since they do not have the disease.  To date, 1,058 residents of Perry County have been tested for latent TB infection.

Long lines of people have answered the call to get tested.  Each person will be paid $20 to come in and get screened for TB, and another $20 for returning after three days to get the result.  The person will receive another $20 for keeping an appointment to get a chest X-ray if it is recommended, and an additional $100 if the patient is recommended to take medication and completes treatment.

The funding comes through a grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  That makes a big difference in Perry County, the birthplace of Coretta Scott King, where the Census shows 47 percent live in poverty and about 15 percent lacked health insurance in 2014.

Article #2

Alabama: The sixth poorest state in America (Connecting Alabama)

Two nights ago in his State of the State address to legislators Gov. Robert Bentley said this:

"Everyone in this room knows Alabama is one of the poorest states in America, where one in four children live in poverty. Nearly one million of our fellow Alabamians are dependent on Food Stamps."

Gov. Robert Bentley addressing state legislators Tuesday night

The governor went on to call the statistics of poverty sobering. And indeed they are when you begin to look at the numbers county by county. Poverty both connects and disconnects swathes of Alabamians from each other.

I thought I'd use this space today just to highlight some of what the governor was talking about when he called the statistics sobering. The data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau and Alabama Possible, a nonprofit that tracks poverty data and issues.

According to the latest available information on the subject, Alabama is the sixth poorest state in America. Nineteen percent of adults in Alabama live below the poverty line and 28 percent of children live below that same line.

But as high as those numbers are, they are a distant dream in some counties of Alabama where the poverty rate is almost double that percentage.

Cases in point, the following seven counties are the poorest in Alabama:

Wilcox, 39.9 percent; Sumter, 39.1 percent; Dallas, 35.7 percent; Greene, 35.1 percent; Perry, 33 percent; Bullock, 32.8 percent; Macon, 30.9 percent.

Said another way, almost four in 10 adults in Wilcox and Sumter counties live in poverty.

Even in the seven counties with the lowest rates of poverty, six of them have double-digit poverty rates. Those seven counties include:

Shelby, 8.1 percent; Baldwin, 13.4 percent; Elmore, 13.8 percent; Madison, 13.8 percent, Limestone, 13.9 percent; Blount, 14.9 percent; Autauga, 14.9 percent.

The state's most populous county, Jefferson, with the greatest number of jobs in the state, has a poverty rate of 18.7 percent. Mobile County, which in recent years has attracted high-profile jobs in ship building and aircraft manufacturing, still has a poverty rate of 19.7 percent. And Montgomery County, home to the state capital and government has a poverty rate of 23.2 percent.

Gov. Robert Bentley pointed out in his State of the State address Tuesday that nearly 1 million of Alabama's 4-plus million residents are dependent on food stamps.

Not surprisingly, the less education an Alabamian has the more likely they are to live in poverty. Among those with no high school diploma, almost 27 percent are living below the poverty line. Those with a high school diploma or GED have 14.6 poverty rates. Only 3.6 percent of those with college degrees are in poverty in Alabama, slightly less than the national average of 3.9 percent.

Broken down by race, 30.6 percent of blacks are in poverty, 31.2 percent of Hispanics and 12.4 percent of whites.

Politically, the poverty divide is stark. The seven counties with the highest poverty rates are all represented by Democrats, almost all of whom, with the exception of one state senator, are black.

The seven counties with the lowest poverty levels are all represented by Republicans, all of whom are white.

Bentley called the facts surrounding the state's high poverty levels "indisputable." He then added this: "Never-ending cycles of a need for jobs, better job skills and better education plague our communities, counties and state as they have for years."


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