Highway 431 Blog

Monday, December 31, 2007

Near Death On New Years Eve ::

I had to run to the store early this morning and the fog was pretty bad. I was turning onto Hwy. 431 at New Hope as the light turned green and a silver van came right through the red light in his direction at a high rate of speed barely missing me!

Not a good way to end one year and start another, but we're wishing each and every one of you a Happy New Year as well as a safe one! I will celebrate by watching Clemson trounce Auburn this evening. (Actually I'm touting Clemson by 6 although the official line is, I believe, Clemson by 2 1/2.)

See you in the new year!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Heat Applied To The Gov?

I first came across this story on Raw Story earlier this afternoon:

Alabama's Republican Governor Bob Riley may have attempted to conceal illegal corporate donations to his 2002 and 2006 campaigns by representing them in campaign finance reports as having come from individuals, according to an an investigation carried out by the Montgomery Independent.

I'll be watching the local paper closely to see if they pick up on the allegations, but I have few doubts that the Huntsville Times is anything more than a corporate shill and will either not report the story at all or will bury it as deep in the newspaper as possible! Let's look at what the Montgomery Independent has to say:

Riley's campaign finance reports for the 2006 campaign list in-kind contributions for transportation totaling $7,929.47 from John Saint of Mobile. Saint is listed on the Secretary of State Web site as president of a number of Alabama corporations. When asked about the in-kind contributions Saint said he did not recall when Riley may have used his company's plane. He said: "Our plane gets used every day. A lot of charities use our plane for Angel Flights."

When asked if he had reimbursed his company for the Riley campaign's use of the plane, he said: "I don't recall." He said he would have to go back and look, but it would be after the first of the year. When asked who owned the plane he said JDC Support Services, Inc. and added: "I own the company."

Federal Aviation Administration records show that JDC Support Services, Inc. owns a Bombardier Challenger CL-600-2B16, a twin engine jet airplane. There are no aircraft registered to John Saint individually

All bold emphasis added here is mine!

But, there is more!

Neither Saint nor Wellborn, through his spokesman, are able to affirm that they reimbursed their corporations for the Riley campaign's use of their corporate airplanes. It appears that the Riley campaign may have improperly reported in-kind contributions from corporations, by listing the presidents of the corporations individually, rather than the corporations themselves, as contributors. If that is the case, it would appear to be a violation of the Fair Campaign Practices Act.

Also, under Alabama law, there is no limit on campaign contributions from individuals, but corporate contributions, whether cash or in-kind, are limited to $500 per election cycle. Riley's name was on the ballot in only two election cycles in 2006, the Republican primary and the General Election. That means any corporate contribution more than $1,000 would appear to be unlawful.

Seems as though Riley has some questions to answer! Go read the entire article from the Montgomery Independent. I see some interaction with with my state legislative representative in my future!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Christmas Message From Don Siegelman

As posted over at The Legal Schnauzer via Pam Miles:

Merry Christmas to all of you, with heartfelt gratitude for your support.

Please enjoy this meaningful holiday season and appreciate your freedom, your homes, and your loved ones. I look forward to cherishing these precious gifts, more than ever, in the coming year.

With your continued hard work, I believe this Christmas will be my only one within these walls. Despite the grim conditions here, I will celebrate this special day by keeping my faith, and by maintaining the hope that, with your help, we can move Congress to expand their investigation and restore American justice --our once bright beacon in the free world.

I cannot thank you enough, or ask more emphatically that you continue and intensify your extremely important efforts. May the many blessings of this season bring joy to each of you.

Don Siegelman
Oakdale, LA

Don Siegelman # 24775-001
Satellite Prison Camp
Post Office Box 5010
Oakdale, LA 71463-5019

Monday, December 24, 2007


We're wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and the safest of holidays!

Friday, December 21, 2007


This story has lasted about as long as I thought it would before the powers that be who benefit from cheap labor in Huntsville succeeded in killing it. I had some responses from current and former employees of Cinram testifying to the terrible working conditions, but our local political and business leaders continue to support the exploitation of the north Alabama work force, not to mention the terrible treatment of the foreign workers they coerced into coming here for what should have been a positive economic experience for them rather than for the recruiting firm!

Why can't we keep Cinram's feet to the fire on this! Not to mention our elected politicians--they should be held accountable for this human resource debacle also!

A Firearm Shooting Range For Columbia High In Huntsville?

This item was buried on one of the back pages of today's (Friday) Huntsville Times:

The Huntsville city school board Thursday approved nearly $285,000 for construction of an indoor firing range at Columbia High School.

John Brown, director of operations for Huntsville City Schools, said the 1,400 square-foot facility could be ready in late spring or early summer. It will be used by the school's Junior ROTC program.

This is the entirety of the report in the paper and I find this proposal disturbing on many levels, as should any parent who has a student at Columbia High School. I have never, ever, heard of any high school in this country with its own shooting range and, given the problems throughout the country with school shootings, why are we building a shooting range in a high school. The story says that this range is for use by the Junior ROTC program, but this is just beyond the pale.

I attended a land grant college where ROTC was mandatory for freshmen and sophmores and our experience at firing a weapon was one time in a year on a local range off the university site. As it turns out I had classes when this was scheduled and missed firing the M14. The participation was voluntary instead of mandatory.

I think that some serious questions should be asked about this. Not only why someone felt that a shooting range should be built in a high school environment, but how did this proposal get approved apparently without much, if any, public notice.

I find this to be truly frightening and makes me wonder about the reasoning ability of the Huntsville city school board!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Thom Hartmann Follows The Siegelman Saga

I normally listen to the web feed of Air America while at work and Hartmann has really begun to follow and push the injustice brought on Siegelman by the Bush administration and the Republicans in Alabama. The story is beginning to really gain national traction and we hope that questions will soon be asked and answered!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Siegelman Saga Grows Legs ::

I've been working on putting another web site together for the past few days and it has been time intensive, but the story of Don Siegelman's legal woes due to the Republican dirty tricks is beginning to gain well deserved national traction. Thom Hartmann on Air America has picked up on the story and has prominently featured it at least once this past week expanding on the time he had previously given it. It's gratifying to see Siegelman characterized as what he is: a political prisoner of the Bush crime administration!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Vivian Davis Figures-"I Believe"

Whew, her campaign has finally put up a web site with which offers information about her campaign and her policies as well as opportunities for donating and volunteering.
I am going to be tossing some dollars her way and I will volunteer in any way that I can!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

More Cinram Madness

I don't watch much television of any sort although I right now I'm watching Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home DVD about Bob Dylan so I seldom get to see any of the newscasts from the local stations. Mooncat has a link to a WAAY story up on Left In Alabama which I found pretty interesting so I'm going to excerpt a bit of it:

After just three months on the job, Angela DeLaveleye decided she'd had enough with Cinram. DeLaveleye and her former co-worker Alison Glaze both quit the Huntsville plant earlier this month, and they now say what's going on inside is not only appalling, but illegal.

"At Cinram you don't go and make a big stink if you want to keep your job," said DeLaveleye. "I've seen 14-year-olds, i've asked them, they've said they're 14 years old. You have 14-year-old Hispanic people working here."


Both women said many workers at the plant are too afraid to do anything because of their legal status. And there are other allegations as well.

"The conditions are filthy, it's dirty," DeLaveleye said. "The bathrooms are dirty, they're not cleaned, they smell. You walk into the bathrooms, someone has spit in them, left hair in the sink."

"When a friend of mine left, she was told by a security guard that there is TB at Cinram right now, and you need to go get checked," Glaze said. "(This happened) about four weeks ago."

I've had friends who worked at Cinram, and one that I see infrequently still works there, I think. I'll have to look Gordie up, but all characterize the company as little more than a sweatshop. I'm interested in seeing just how long this story will last until the local powers-that-be kill it!


Mooncat has an expanded post which expands on the entire situation regarding Cinram. Here's another excerpt:

The H-2B workers at Cinram are living in multi-person apartments and paying an exorbitant amount for a rent/transportation package. The apartments are no better than expected. A local reporter found some female Cinram workers from Jamaica living in a place with a non-working heater, a tub that won't drain, closet doors on the floor and drafty windows. One of the women said, "I have a pet goat and I would never let her stay here." They were paying a total of $1280 per month for that, a ride to work and twice a week rides to Wal-Mart.

The same reporter quizzed the women on earnings and expenses and calculated that if they only spend $10/day for food and necessities, they can save about $2000 each during their 8 month stay. Good, huh? Not really, because they had to pay $1400 in fees to an agency to get the job, $500 for airfare to get here and $100 for a visa application and background checks. So they spent $2000 to get the job and they will have $2000 left after working 8 months. Even, Steven. So much for "helping poor people get ahead."

This is the part of the story which really concerns me. The only term sticking in my mindright now is "economic peonage"!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Contacting Your Local Representative

I have been ranting for sometime about our state and national representation, but today I e-mailed my local county commissioner with a concern about a bridge. Within a couple of hours he had returned my call with a full explanation of how the matter was being handled and I firmly complimented him on his response.

Being involved starts at the ground up!

I listen to the webcast of Air America radio and I am a big fan of Thom Hartmann:

"Tag You're It!"

Cinram And Imported Labor

This story gets more and more bizarre and Mooncat is covering it nicely over at Left In Alabama. Just af few minutes ago I was in a local convenience store picking up something when the news piece of today's meeting between community leaders and the Cinram management was reported so I stopped in the aisle and watched it since I had seen the teaser earlier at home but knew I would miss the story.

Upon seeing the local newscast my first thought was that Cinram has spent a lot of money on PR spin given how big this story has grown in the past few weeks.

When I got to the cash register the cashier asked me what I thought of the story and I told her that I thought the entire episode has been despicable and that we should be expecting more of not only local companies, but also we should expect more from our local government. She proceeded to tell me that she had worked at Cinram until just before this story broke, she had been there several years and she was just about to be slated for upgraded benefits when she was laid off. The bitterness sort of dripped from her voice and we both agreed that there were more than enough local workers, given the wages to be paid, to fill the jobs which Cinram had open.

What also concerns me is the treatment of the foreign workers which I think will be documented even more in the coming days. From Mooncat:

The Jamaican women interviewed are not making as much money as they were promised, and the living conditions are, shall we say, piss poor.
"They told us they're nice people, and the housing will be comfortable," Erin said. "I have a pet goat and I would never let her stay here."

However, a call to the apartment manager reveals that the unit normally rents for $395 a month. Together these women pay $1280 a month to a man who drives them to work.

If I understand that correctly, that means someone is renting the apartment for $395, driving the women to work and back daily and charging them $1280 for room and transportation. That's $785 for transportation. There has to be a big profit in that deal.

In fact, it sounds like everybody is profiting, except the foreign workers. Stephens looked at pay stubs and figures that, if they can limit expenses for food and necessities to $10 per day, they can save $2000 over the 8 month stint in Huntsville. Sounds good, you say? Wrong! They had to pay $2000 in fees and transportation to get the job here.

So, they quit jobs in their home countries, come to Huntsville, work long hours at a dead end job, pay three prices to live in bad conditions and go home no richer. I'm sure they will leave with a wonderful impression of what a friendly, caring, Christian nation America is.

I have long believed that Huntsville is a large hearted city and I don't see why we can't arrange some sort of community transportation to get these people to work and back home. What would interest me would be who would be crying the loudest about the loss of the transportation fee! Doesn't the city offer public transportation? I have yet to see this being overused and I see no reason why bus schedules could not be rearranged to get these people to work and back in a cost effective manner.

I see more phone calls to the Huntsville City and Madison County representatives in my future!

Get involved!

Saturday, December 1, 2007


I got the OS reloaded on the desktop computer, but it will take me some time to get everything reloaded and back up to speed. Luckily I have just recently backed-up most of my desktop stuff to my flash drive. Losing those items would have negated several days of work! I began noticing a problem a few days ago printing out of Photoshop to my Epson 2200 printer. I now wonder if this was a precursor to my OS problem?

Computer Problems

My desktop seems to have crashed so I'm posting here from the old PII 233 laptop. Actually the problems seem to be happening across web sites so we're going through all recovery ideas including re-installing the desktop OS! My thoughts at the moment include damnations for Microsoft!

I'll post later tonight or tomorrow morning with an update!