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Last Updated Wednesday, October 29, 2014

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Dear Editor:

As your readers are aware, there are five statewide amendments to the Alabama
Constitution to be  voted on in the Nov. 4 election. I found each of them extremely difficult to
understand, primarily because of the mind-numbing legalese in which they are presented.
After slogging through them a few times, I would like to offer a few random observations.

Amendment 1: I am in favor of this amendment. All it says is that Alabama does not have to
honor laws of other states (e.g. same-sex marriage) or foreign countries (e.g. Sharia law) if
these laws violate Alabama’s own laws. Some cultures, for example, sanction “honor
killings” where it is permissible to kill one’s own daughter for dating outside the faith or to
stone adulterers to death. Believe it or not, there are touchy-feely one-worlders out there who
think we need to show “sensitivity” and “respect” for such barbarity.

Amendment 2: I am opposed to this. This amendment would authorize raiding the Alabama
Trust Fund to upgrade National Guard armories. The Rainy Day Fund was set up to handle
emergency appropriations. Voters will need to decide whether the admittedly deteriorating
state of some armories rises to the level of an emergency.

Amendment 3: This one is probably about You-Know-Who coming after our guns. It
basically strengthens at the state level already existing state and federal rights to bear arms.
Since we choose to live in a state that “dares defend its rights,” I see no problem with
supporting this amendment.

Amendment 4: This has to do with the legislature imposing unfunded mandates on local
school boards (I think). Read this description from the Legislature’s Web site and see what
you think: “Amendment 4 increases the requirement to a two-thirds majority vote (over 66
percent), rather than a simple majority (over 50 percent), of the Alabama Legislature in order
to pass a law that would require local boards of education to cumulatively spend over $50,000
in local funds without providing the funds to pay for the increased expense.” Being no fan of
unfunded mandates, I’d vote for it.

Amendment 5: This one is known as “The Sportsman’s Bill of Rights.” It affirms the right
of Alabama citizens to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife by using traditional methods. I heard a
rumor that this was proposed because a judge gave a man a year in jail for fishing without a
license, but I don’t have that confirmed. Like Amendment 3, it seems to strengthen at the
level of the state Constitution already-existing rights, so I see no harm in it.

For additional information, the best website is  Click on
“Statewide Ballot Measures for the November 4, 2014 Elections” near the top center of the
home page.

Robert Avant


Dear Editor:

There is a critical issue impacting Alabama school districts on the Nov. 4 ballot. Here is the
background. Alabama legislators unanimously agreed last session to let voters decide whether
to protect local school funds in the state’s constitution. Should local school leaders or
politicians in Montgomery decide how school dollars are spent?

That is the question posed to voters by Amendment 4 on the Nov. 4 General Election ballot.
Voter approval of Amendment 4 would allow local school dollars to be spent on local

There is no downside to Amendment 4. It doesn’t require a funding source and won’t affect

Amendment 4 would increase the requirement to a two-thirds vote (over 66 percent), rather
than a simple majority (over 50 percent), of the Alabama Legislature in order to pass a law
that would require local boards of education to cumulatively spend over $50,000 in local
funds without providing the funds to pay for the increased expense.

Separately, Amendment 4 would continue to provide that a majority vote be required for
unfunded mandates that address the compensation, benefits or due process right of any
employee of the board of education. If Amendment 4 is defeated, the Legislature could
continue to pass bills that impose unfunded mandates on boards of education by a simple
majority vote of the Legislature.

Put another way, the Alabama Legislature must get more votes, not just a simple majority, if
it hopes to pass laws issuing directives to schools and stick schools with the bill. In Fayette
County, unfunded mandates that we are responsible for typically cost us more than $150,000
annually. Amendment 4 would rescue us from this direct hit to our finances.

The decision is in your hands! On Nov. 4 protect local schools like those housed right here
in the communities of Fayette County. Vote Yes on Nov. 4

Wade Shipman


Dear Editor:

I was very pleased that this newspaper had a staff editorial by Bo Black in the Oct. 15 issue
asking that our local government entities do more to inform the public of meetings: their
place, time and content. Public meetings are one of those parts of democracy that are
inconvenient for government. They are meant to create a public record of decisions, decision
making, and assent and dissent among our representatives. We are not doing a good job of
getting any of that information out.

Our County Commission once held half of their meetings during working hours which
suppressed public participation, that is improved, now the regular meetings are at night. The
meetings are held in an impossibly small room three fourths occupied by a huge conference
table. This in itself helps prevent most public participation since there is generally no seating.

The Board of Education does not publish their agendas for consumption by the public. The
agendas that are passed out before the meeting have cryptic topics such as I. Personnel, II.
Facilities: a.) b.) c.) To crack that code you really need a copy of the board packet that the
board members receive well before the meeting but is not offered to the audience. We can
only guess what prohibited conversations have occurred before the meeting, but they seem to
be significant. After the meeting, minutes are also not published for all to see.

The City of Fayette does publish agendas and minutes online on the city website and does
have a more open style of meeting. Fayette also publishes the City Code and the Zoning
Ordinances and maps on their website. All entities with ordinances, codes, regulations or
handbooks should follow suit. The Berry City Council meetings that I have attended seem to
be open and refreshingly unrehearsed.

I would like to see all of these entities, and city utilities and all other official boards to begin
posting bids, meetings, agendas, minutes, vote records and supporting documents on, it is a service of the state and does not cost our local governments
anything. Next, at a tiny cost, all of these meetings should be live streamed on the internet and
archived for future viewing.

Lastly if expenditure approvals that these boards vote on were also linked to the images of
requisitions, quotes, invoices and the check number to pay them from an online check
register, I just bet that we would see an overnight improvement in financial efficiency. It takes
a village to keep a democracy.

Van Gravlee

President -


Dear Editor:

The city of Fayette done some paving and patching a few weeks ago. Some of the streets
that needed to be paved were patched. In certain areas on the south end of town, streets that
were better than what we have to ride on everyday were paved.

I think the city of Fayette is in a contest with Walker County in seeing who can have the
most potholes and rough roads for people to ride on.

The next city election the citizens of Fayette need to patch vote and see if some changes
could be made in city hall and Fayette.

All you have to do is get in your car and ride around town and you can tell where the mayor
and council members live by the paving that has been done in their neighborhoods.

By the way, they haven’t told the public about the water park going $52,000 in the red
(shame on you Mr. Mayor.).

Roy Duckworth


Dear Editor:

The Fayette County Republican Executive Committee would like to take this opportunity to
thank the poll workers for their service to Fayette County in the past and especially in the
upcoming election. The Nov. 4 election has the potential to be a long, hard day for poll
workers, but we know that they are men and women of integrity and will do everything in
their power to ensure that the voting process is fair and honest. We applaud these individuals,
who because of their strong civic duty, serve as poll workers so all voters can exercise their
constitutional right to vote.

Fayette County Republican

Executive Committee

Debbie Roberts, Secretary


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