The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Monday, November 5, 2012

Amendments - how to vote

My philosophy regarding amendments to the Alabama Consititution for years has been to always vote no unless something really, really important to me was being addressed by a particular issue. This is because our constitution is so outdated, and voters need to send a message to the legislators and the other voters that we want a new constitution and we want it now. It's ridiculous that we have to vote on an amendment every time a local water system needs to change (Amendment 5), or a city wants to annex rural land (Amendment 3) or when police jurisdictions are in question (Amendment 11). But in some years, an issue tops my ideology.

This is one such year. Forever Wild, the agency that has purchased 231,000 acres reserved for public use, is funded by revenue from the state's oil and gas trust fund. This amendment allows funding to continue for the next 20 years.

Alabama ranks dead last in availability of public lands for recreational use.

The Birmingham News says "And we will almost certainly still be in last place in 2032," when this will probaby come up for funding again, assuming it passes this year.

So the Bessemer Progressive says to vote "Yes" on Amendment 1.

Amendment 2 is tricky. Some Democrats are saying to vote yes, but I say hold your ground and vote "No."

"Borrow, borrow, borrow," and "cut, cut, cut,"  have been the answers from Republicans when asked about solving our state's fiscal problems. The Republicans refuse to responsibly consider raising revenue to help address our problems, and this is just another example of their philosophy. Vote "No" on Amendment 2.

All of the other amendments deserve a "No" vote for the reason pointed out in the first paragraph.

But Amendment 4 needs special mention. This amendment removes racist language from the Constitution. But it really doesn't. Alabama's Constitution was written in 1901and amended many times and is peppered with words and phrases that are demeaning to African Americans. If this amendment passes, do those words just disappear?  Will my copy of the Alabama Constitution then have blank lines and pages where the racist language once appeared?

No, the language will still be there, the amendment just says we will ignore it.

As long as the 1901 Constitution is our state governing document, we will live under it's shame, regardless of how many coats of whitewashing are applied.

The rich, white, racist men that wrote the Alabama Constitution in 1901

But this amendment is harmful in another way. It would affirm that the children in Alabama do not have a right to public education.

Here is how Judge Mark Kennedy explained it.

In 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down segregated schools, Alabama added Amendment 111 to our state constitution. Amendment 111 has three paragraphs: the first eliminated the right to a public education, the second helped start private segregation academies, and the third demanded the segregation of students. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down amendment 111, but it still embarrassingly remains in the state constitution. We tried to eliminate Amendment 111 altogether in 2004, but the attempt failed. The legislature took up the cause again this past year, but the Republican Supermajority decided to only take out the third paragraph and leave the other two in place. If we vote “YES”, we will be reaffirming paragraphs one and two. Why didn’t the Republicans bring up a clean bill that got rid of all of Amendment 111? After their attempts at charter schools, their attacks on teachers, and attempts to raid the Education Trust Fund, you can only imagine what they’re up to.

So vote "No" on Amendment 4.

And vote "No" on all the other amendments, except for Amendment 1.

But most of all, Vote on Tuesday.

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