Thursday, November 10, 2011

Satan Wins in Mississippi

Phil Bryant was elected Governor in Mississippi November 8, 2011 the same day the Personhood Amendment he co-chaired was defeated.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Notes From the Political Forum

Cissy Jordan called the meeting to order and Henry Harris lead us in prayer and the Salute to the Flag.

The Habitat for Humanity Project (off Brodnax Road) has finally been defeated for good, the court upheld the decision by the Planning Commission and The Board of Supervisors.

Singing River Electric Power Association is experiencing problems with their phones. Cissy asked for a show of hands to see how many people it was affecting and discovered it was not affecting many people.

Everyone was invited to the January Meeting where we will elect officers.

Read the Initiatives that will be on the November 8th Ballot.
No 26 Persoonhood - NO
No 27 Voter ID - NO
No 31 Eminent Domain - YES

Recognized Michael Watson.

Candidates were allowed to make a 5 minutes speech.

The candidates running for School Board went first.

Duane Dobson - Wants to improve our scores so that our schools are not just first in the State, but also in the top percentage Nationally instead of ranked last as we currently are. Wants to see the funds distributed fairly and everyone working together. Is for comprehensive sex education in the schools and will research uniforms to see if there is a valid reason to do away with them if someone ask.

Lori Ramsay Massey - In the interest of full disclosure we are friends.  Concerned with school bus safety, proper hand-washing  to prevent germs from being picked up and in insuring that special needs children get the therapy they need.

Karen Ray Tolbert - wants to make sure we have winning athletic teams.

Candidates for Jackson County Sheriff

Jeff Barnes - maintains there is serious issues with Sheriff Byrd's leadership, that he waste our tax dollars and wants to know where the money goes.

Mike Byrd - was unable to attend due to a mix up in the dates. The Civic Association allowed a letter he wrote to be read on his behalf.

Walter "Bo" Bohl - did not attend

Candidates for Jackson County District 4 Supervisor

Bo Alawine - In the interest of full disclosure he is my spouse.  Since I have a copy of his speech I am including it here. 
My wife, Sandra, and I both consider it a privilege to be part of the Latimer community and citizens of Jackson County.  We moved here 24 years ago and have loved it.  However, as much as I love Jackson County, we could be doing far better. 

I believe government is often used to benefit the well-connected, while the rest of us pick up the tab.  For example, giving tax breaks to large businesses leads to more jobs which leads to more revenue. Unfortunately, this is usually an article of faith that results in a significant shift of the tax burden onto homeowners.

Overall, Jackson Countians pay higher property taxes despite the presence of several large industries here.  Our total assessed valuation is fourth in the state, whereas Harrison County is first. Yet we have the 26th highest total millage assessed while Harrison County ranks near the bottom in total millage.  Despite having the second highest millage for Fire Protection in the state, the fire ratings for the unincorporated areas remain at 7 or above and those for the incorporated areas are 5 or higher.  Higher fire ratings translate into higher insurance costs.

This begs the question:  Are we getting a good return on our investment for the tax breaks granted to large employers in the county?

I believe in using tax incentives to attract and retain businesses but those businesses should be held accountable for upholding their end of the bargain and we need to know for sure that they are.

We need a more diverse economic development plan, one that relies less on heavy industry and more on small to mid-size businesses which offer competitive wages and benefits.  Aggressively promote our natural attractions such as the Pascagoula River basin and  DeSoto National Forest as well as other venues such as downtown Ocean Springs and the proposed USS Ticonderoga project in Pascagoula.  Adding quality of life improvements such as bike paths, more parks and public boat launches when we upgrade our infrastructure.

Additionally, everyone should be able to know what their elected and appointed officials are doing without having to attend every meeting. There is no reason all county information should not be readily and publicly-accessible online 24/7.  As noted by the Sun Herald, Jackson County is the lone holdout here on the Coast with making its spending information publicly available. That is inexcusable. 

It boils down to this:  We deserve a county government which looks to the future and doesn’t rely on the “business as usual” approach in which the public’s business, OUR business, is discussed behind closed doors.

Why did I decide to run for supervisor?  Well, besides the fact I arguably have no better sense, I have two very important vested interests: Jonathan and Sean.  Jonathan graduates from college this December, while Sean has a couple more years.  I want them to be able to find good-paying jobs here in Jackson County.  Not in Alabama or Louisiana, but here.  I want them to be able to afford homes, put down roots, raise families, without worrying about whether their county is cutting backroom deals that will mean a lower quality of life for their families.

It’s conventional wisdom that money often buys political influence.  That’s why you should know that, with one exception, I have not received any political campaign contributions.  I am a self-funded candidate and I have copies of my campaign finance report here to prove it.

I’d rather risk losing an election due to insufficient campaign funds than win one bankrolled by special interests that come calling after Election Day.  When it’s all said and done, I do not want to owe anyone anything but a “Thank you!” for their vote. 

Sandra has more than once told me she honestly believes I’d make a great supervisor but I definitely make a lousy politician.  I personally think that’s a great compliment.

I don’t want Jackson County to be just a good place to work. I don’t want it to be just a good place to do business.  I want Jackson County to be a great place to live.  A great place to start and raise a family.  A great place to enjoy the company of friends and family.  A great place to grow old and retire.

A great place for all of our children to build their futures.

Please consider me for your next supervisor. - Bo Alawine

There was some confusion and his time was cut short as he wanted to clarify that even though he is a member of the Latimer Civic Association the Association is apolitical and does not endorse any candidates, therefore he did not get to give the speech in it's entirety.

Troy Ross - He is currently the Alderman at Large for Ocean Springs.

The meeting was adjourned.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Political Forum Monday

The Latimer Civic Association is holding a Jackson County candidate forum at 7 p.m. Monday at the Latimer Community Center. Candidates for sheriff, District 4 supervisor and Jackson County school board will be speaking to residents. There will also be discussion of the three ballot initiatives on the Nov. 8 ballot -- personhood, voter ID and eminent domain.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Interview with Bo Alawine

Note: The following Q  and A appeared in the October 19, 2011, edition of The Gazette (article not yet online).

Q. What is your political philosophy?
A. If I had to condense my political philosophy down to one sentence, I suppose it would have to be something along the lines of "Government is to be for the betterment of all, not for just a privileged few."  It is my belief that, more than ever, the levers of government have been and are being used to fatten the bank accounts of the well-connected, while the rest of us are expected to pick up the tab.  Often this sleight of hand is presented to the rest of us as "economic development".  A perfect example would be the favorite conservative tactic of granting tax exemptions to large businesses/industries under the claim that those businesses/industries will create more jobs which will lead to more revenue.  In my opinion, the current means of ascertaining economic impacts is fraught with pollyannish guesswork and wishful thinking, resulting in a significant shift of the tax burden onto the taxpayers themselves.  I find it hard to believe this isn’t intentional.
  I would also add as a corollary that government should be transparent so that every citizen can know what his/her elected official is discussing and that official will be voting upon.  Publicizing what factors go into the various decisions and votes is critical for having an informed electorate.  Unfortunately, it is often standard operating procedure to coordinate the public’s business away from the public forums and/or to move to “executive session” to discuss politically sensitive items.  In this day and age, there is no reason why every agenda, all official meeting minutes (as well as video of all meetings) and every document should not be publicly-accessible online 24/7.  Jackson County is the lone holdout here on the Coast with respect to making its spending information available and the current Board of Supervisors has postponed doing so until next year.  That is inexcusable.

Q. Who are your political heroes?
A. My political heroes?  That’s an interesting question, one I haven’t even considered until now and I’m not sure I’d consider anyone a political “hero”.  “Hero” is a term which has become almost meaningless in today’s lexicon.  To me, a “hero” is someone who selflessly goes far beyond the requirements of their daily lives to help others, putting themselves at considerable risk, professionally and personally.
Having said that, I would consider former Congressman Gene Taylor as someone worthy of emulation.  While I strongly disagreed with a number of his conservative positions, he was always respectful and willing to listen to my concerns.  I was also greatly impressed with his display of “grace under pressure” during his August 2009 “town hall” meeting in Moss Point.  I could only hope to be half as patient as he was in dealing with some of the most outrageous attacks on both his character and his person.

Q.  What propelled you to enter the race?
A. Every American boy and girl probably dreams of being president one day; I was no different.  As I’ve grown older, though, I’ve become more interested in the workings of local, state and federal government.  I’ve never been interested in “politics”, per se, but in the day-to-day operations that most of us take for granted.  
The specific impetus for throwing my hat into the ring was the initially unopposed candidacy of the current Jackson County District #4 supervisor, Tommy Brodnax.  On more than one occasion, Mr. Brodnax had displayed what I considered an incredible contempt for the concerns for his constituents, particularly those in the Latimer community with respect to the Highway 15 proposal.  No one, regardless of their job approval numbers, should be allowed to run for office unopposed and I intended to not allow Mr. Brodnax to “walk” into office.  It wasn’t until after I had registered as a Democrat that two other challengers, Mr. Ross and Mr. Cruthirds, filed to run against Mr. Brodnax in the Republican primary.  Had I known Mr. Brodnax would have had two challengers, my decision would have still been the same, given my personal political philosophy is generally at odds with that espoused by Republican politicians.
I am also motivated to move Jackson County away from what I perceive to be “good ol’ boy” politics, where officials count on the indifference or ignorance of the public to push through policies which might not be in the public’s interest.  I would also like to see the county rely less on heavy industry and more on sustainable, “smart” growth, growth which promotes our natural resources and our people.

Q.  Who has supported you in this race?
A. A number of coworkers, friends and family have wished me the best of luck.  I feel it important to note that, with one exception, I have not received any political campaign contributions; i.e., no one is supporting me financially.  In other words, I am a self-funded candidate.  At the end of the day, I want to owe no one but a “Thank you!” for their vote.  
It’s often said that money is the mother’s milk of politics, a necessary evil to promote one’s campaign message.  While this may be true, it would be difficult to dissuade me from the firm belief that money often buys influence.  I’d rather risk losing an election due to insufficient campaign funds than win one bankrolled by a number of people who come calling after I’ve been sworn into office.

Q.  Tell us about yourself, your family.
A. My wife, Sandra, and I are both originally from Meridian. 
I graduated from Clarkdale Attendance Center in 1983 and received my A.A. in Electronics Technology from Meridian Junior College in 1985.
When I graduated with my B.S. in Electronics Engineering Technology from the University of Southern Mississippi in May 1987, Sandra and I got married and we moved to a little rental house on Stennis Avenue in Ocean Springs in August of that year  when I was hired by a defense contractor out at Ingalls Shipyard.  In September 1991, we bought our first (and only) house in the Latimer community where we’ve lived ever since.  
Both of our sons, Jonathan and Sean, were born at Ocean Springs Hospital and attended St. Martin Elementary until we decided to homeschool.  Both boys are currently attending the University of South Alabama where Jonathan is working on his Master’s in Computer Science and Sean is pursuing a Bachelor’s in History with a minor in Political Science.
I have been fortunate that my employment has allowed me to travel all over this country and to points beyond.  I’ve been to Japan, Panama, Mexico and Canada.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting different people and hearing different viewpoints on politics and government and life in general.

Q. Tell us what has surprised you in the past months as you have been out campaigning.
A. I was completely taken aback with the amount of money that local candidates were expected to raise during the course of an average campaign.  At my first Democratic Party meeting, several experienced incumbents offered their experiences with fundraising and relayed the amounts they had raised in their last campaigns, amounts I found staggering. 
My first true campaign experience was during the Ocean Springs Mardi Gras parade.  Prior to the parade itself, I walked up and down Government Street, introducing myself to folks.  It turned out approximately half of the people I talked to weren’t even from Mississippi, must less Jackson County District #4.  This caused me to re-evaluate how I was going to get message out to prospective voters.  Given my decision to self-fund my campaign, it seemed wasteful to purchase advertising that couldn’t be targeted to just District #4.
Another thing that came as a bit of a surprise to me was the number of people who had no idea as to their supervisor, their district, their voting precinct or even when Election Day was.  It strikes me as a bit odd that so many people could rail about what the federal government was or was not doing right but had no clue about their own local government.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dick Hall out of Date

The proposal is to four lane Mississippi Highway 15 right through the center of the state from the Tennessee line to the Gulf of Mexico.

"It will affect every town it passes through and every county it passes through, and it would provide a badly needed evacuation route off of the Gulf Coast," Hall said.

Our tax money was just wasted on a proposal to four lane Mississippi Highway 15. After upsetting numerous residents of Jackson County who were in danger of losing their homes to one of the proposed routes the no build option was chosen by MDOT in February of 2011. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the issue, you can read more here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Political Forum

The Latimer Civic Association is hosting a political forum Monday July 25 @ 7PM. It will be hosted at the Latimer Community Center. All candidates who face opposition in the Primary (August 2nd) will be given the opportunity to speak. Those running unopposed in the primary will be given a chance to speak at the political forum in October before the General Election.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mississippi Department of Insurance ~ Town Meeting ~ Gulfport

I attended the Mississippi Department of Insurance, Town Meeting in Gulfport today. For those of you who were unable to attend they have a website Insurance Department Mississippi,  and they are on Twitter .

The purpose of the meeting was to talk about establishing a Health Exchange for Mississippians by Mississippians. The Health Exchange would not be a government entitlement program, but would give the citizens of Mississippi more options. Federal Law Mandates a Health Exchange be in place by 2014.

18% of Mississippians are currently uninsured. Goals of the exchange would be to lower administrative cost and to increase participation so that more of our citizens are insured.

43% of those polled at today's meeting were in favor of the Affordable Care Act while 39% hate it. The Affordable Care Act is very polarizing so we were asked to look at the Health Exchange separate from the Affordable Care Act. 68% of those at the meeting would prefer that Mississippi run the Health Exchange not the Federal Government.

Roadblocks are the lack of Internet access by many of our citizens and the disparate education levels of our citizenry.

57% think that Health Insurance is important to economic growth and considering that Mississippi has the highest number of part time employes of any state  the need for employers to offer health insurance to part time employees is great.

One option mentioned was a Defined Contribution Plan which would allow employers to decide how much money to put in the exchange for their employees.

Plan needs to be in place by Jan 1, 2014.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Shawn Vestal Insults Mississippi

A new report shows that more parents in Washington refused to have their children vaccinated than any other state in the nation. I’d have thought Mississippi would have taken that flag, but no – it’s apparently a different kind of counterculture that drives this particular paranoia, and we’ve got a big dose of it.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

This makes me so sad

True grit at Humane Society
I guess they’re used to it, those employees in their blue uniforms and green scrubs who sit behind the counter at the Surrender Center of the Humane Society in Gulfport. Polite and detached, the lady hands me forms to sign and asks me if I am aware that there is a $15 “surrender fee.” Over her head on the wall behind her there is a large sign which warns everyone that this is not a no-kill facility. Below that were numbers describing the chances of survival: almost a thousand animals surrendered; about a third of these adopted. The rest were euthanized, except for the lucky seventy who were transported by the “Love Train” to facilities in other states where they might be adopted.

I guess they’re used to it. They just keep typing, stapling and focusing on the computer screen, unfazed by the outcries of animals in other parts of the building. There’s the incessant barking of the two spirited dogs brought in on leashes by the couple sitting near the door, waiting their turn. A pale Lab, silent and sad. was also among the waiting. The employee picked up one of the two grey kittens I’d brought in. She is non-judgmental and business-like. “The mother is being spayed today,” I volunteer.

Should I tell her that she was a stray; that my daughter took one of the four kittens and I kept one too? Would she care that I tried to find homes for these two?

People don’t want to adopt adult cats,” she says. She looks at me and smiles, slightly. “They like kittens. They’ll be adopted.”

I shove my dark glasses harder into my face and head for the door before I burst into tears.
I guess they’re used to it. They’ve got to be.


Saturday, June 04, 2011

Leland Speed wants to steal your land

Leland Speed is suing to stop a statewide vote on eminent domain.

The proposed constitutional amendment would prohibit the government from taking private land to give to another person or business.

Lawsuit attacks eminent domain amendment - Local -

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rooting for Mckay

Supervisor John McKay wants it to be more convenient to get a Driver's License in Jackson County.

During the board comments portion of the meeting, Supervisor John McKay said he wants to relocate the Driver's License Bureau from the Jackson County Fairground in Pascagoula to Miss. 57 in Gautier on nine acres across from Sunplex.

"It's a central, county location and we could also move the Justice Court," McKay said.

Brodnax argued that the county does not need a central location and the bureau needs to stay put.

"People in the west can go to D'Iberville, and people from George County can come to Pascagoula," Brodnax said.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Annual Freedom Fund Banquet 2011

Since Bo is running for District 4 Supervisor in Jackoson County Curly Clark invited us to attend the Moss Point Jackson County Branch NAACP Annual Freedom Fund Banquet 2011. I want to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Clark for his invitation and thank the NAACP for a lovely evening.

I had a chance to talk with Bill Luckett (Democrat) and his wife briefly, they were seated at the President's table so I was unable to talk with them after the banquet got started as well as Ron Williams (Republican) who was seated at my table. I was able to enjoy conversing with Ron Williams, his wife Towana and their son Jeffrey throughout the evening. Unfortunately I disagree with Mr. Williams on several important policy issues. Both men are running for Governor of Mississippi.

Both Melton Harris (Jackson County District 2 Supervisor) and Mike Mangum (Jackson County District 3 Supervisor) were at the banquet. Greta Hearndon who is running for Jackson County Tax Assessor and her husband were there, as well as many other candidates I didn't have a chance to speak with.

The guest speaker was Fred L. Banks, Jr a former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Commissioner Epps was invited to Jackson County Board of Supervisors meeting

Since Bo is running for District 4 Supervisor (Jackson County), I wasn't going to comment on Supervisor Brodnax's letter in the Mississippi Press, but I am very glad Commissioner Epps decided to set the record straight.

In its April 16 issue, The Mississippi Press ran a letter from Jackson County Supervisor Tommy Brodnax to Gov. Haley Barbour with the headline, "Commissioner Epps should butt out of jail plans."

Supervisor Brodnax recommends in the letter that I either "fund this project or stay in Jackson and tend to my business."

Please allow me to correct inaccuracies in the letter regarding my meeting with the Jackson County Board of Supervisors on March 7 to discuss plans for building a new Jackson County Jail.

The fact is, I was invited on Feb. 28 by Melton Harris, president of the Jackson County Board of Supervisors, to attend the March 7 meeting along with prisoner rights attorney Ron Welch. I did not arbitrarily decide to attend the meeting, nor did I demand anything.

Knowing Jackson County has been in need of a jail for approximately 15 years and that money was an issue, I was happy to help out and to provide suggestions for the jail's construction that could potentially save the county's taxpayers approximately $12 million and $585,266.50 per year on staffing.

The citizens of Jackson County deserve a jail at the lowest construction and operating costs.
I am not in the business of trying to play politics. I'm in the business of trying to help the people, in this case the citizens of Jackson County.

I will always be available to assist when asked. To suggest otherwise is misleading.

Commissioner, Mississippi
Department of Corrections Jackson

While we need a new jail we also need to be fiscally responsible. If Commissioner Epps can help us build a new jail at the lowest construction and operating cost we need to listen to him. Melton Harris, president of the Jackson County Board of Supervisors should be commended for inviting Commissioner Epps to the meeting. It is too bad that some people are close minded and don't like their plans being thwarted.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I Miss Gene Too

From The Sun Herald Letters to The Editor

I miss South Mississippi’s voice of reason in Congress
Thank you for the informative article last week about former Congressman Gene Taylor. It was good to see that Gene is moving forward after being “fired” by the voters of the 4th Congressional District. I always liked Gene’s performance in the Congress. His was such a balanced, mature, often bipartisan, voice of reason in Washington. I miss him.

The op-ed piece by Steven Palazzo on April 8 made me miss Gene Taylor all the more. Palazzo’s proudest accomplishments seem to be voting to eliminate support for National Public Radio and to deny women, particularly poor women, access to vital health services by defunding Planned Parenthood, as though these were serious attacks on our federal deficits. It’s political demagoguery, pure and simple.

Palazzo also wants to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency, which guards the air we breathe and water we drink. If this is what passes for modern congressional leadership, then help us all.

Bay St. Louis

Nesting in peace is crucial this year

The Least Terns are back. Hopefully people will leave them alone so they can raise their chicks.
Nesting in peace is crucial this year - Gulfport -

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mississippi Taxpayers Financing Barbour's run for President

Read more here.

Haley Barbour Flew State Plane To Deliver Cost Cutting Message To CPAC, Fox News

On Feb. 11, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, his wife and three aides flew in a luxury jet to Washington for a weekend of politicking, including an appearance on Fox News Sunday and a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference. “Our problem is not that we tax too little,” Barbour told the gathering. “It’s that we spend too much.”

The potential presidential contender may have another problem: Mississippi taxpayers paid the tab for Barbour’s first-class travel. State documents obtained by TIME show that Mississippi shelled out $7,020 to shuttle Barbour and his entourage to and from D.C. on its Cessna Citation, a cost that Barbour says is justified by state work he did in D.C. over the same weekend.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Are Dolphins Dying Due to the BP Oil Spill?

“Something is amiss,” Walker said Monday. “It could be oil-related. Who knows? Some of these mothers were probably exposed to oil. Whether it rendered them unable to carry their calves, we just don’t know.”


Friday, February 18, 2011

Bo Alawine for Supervisor District 4

Check out Bo Alawine's official website here.

Jackson County supervisors debate Front Beach

Brodnax cast the lone no vote, citing he was concerned that supporting the effort might put the county on the hook for funding down the road and control of the beach should just be given to the city along with annual maintenance funds. 

Moran told the Ocean Springs aldermen about Brodnax's wishes and she was authorized to ask Brodnax for his proposal in writing and return it to the aldermen. 

Supervisor John McKay, however, said it won't be that easy. "As soon as we give Front Beach to Ocean Springs, then Pascagoula would want theirs and we'd have to go through the process again," McKay said. "If we're going to do it for one, we need to do it for both cites so we can treat them fair and in the same manner."
McKay said Brodnax made an off-the-wall comment during the meeting and that's the only discussion the entire board has had about the issue. 

"We have not discussed it as a whole to find out what the ramifications would be, if any," McKay said. "We don't have a set figure that comes in for the city of Ocean Springs. We just get a seawall tax." 

Read the full story in The Mississippi Press.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Jackson County District 4 Supervisors race heats up

The Jackson County District 4 Supervisor race has more contenders than any other county seat, with four people vying for the post --Tommy Brodnax (68),  Ocean Springs Alderman at large Troy Ross (32), James "Ralph" Cruthrids (46) and Bo Alawine (46)
Bo Alawine

Read more in The Mississippi Press

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Brodnax Considers New Ideas Interfering

Walker said Hemphill asked him to present the jail option to the county supervisors.
“It was just my job to get it to them. I saw an opportunity for the county to save $13 million and add 200 beds to the jail,” Walker said. “It’s unfortunate not everyone likes me or likes us or perhaps likes cost saving.”

The design uses steel re-enforced composite, fiberglass panels with built-in insulation. It is expected to last 50 to 75 years and withstand 250 mph winds. Supervisors were told it would cost about $20 million, be 80,000 square feet and hold 800 beds.

Brodnax said he considered it interfering.

Read more: Brodnax shreds proposal for modular jail