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July 16, 2009     The Tuskegee News
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July 16, 2009
 

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Some removed from Votin ' @ts00 Ict S( lasl wit ap Sot Cot A: veral of you after reading week's column took issue a President Obama's ointment of Sonia mayor to the Supreme rt for political reasons. I mentioned last week, it is a plitical appointment and has always been a political appoint- ment. It is the president's pre" rogative to •choose his nominee. We elected a liberal president of the United States. He is des- tined to pick a liberal for the Sulreme Court. COoices have been made for political reasons throughout ou history. Obama's choice of a Hispanic woman is an astute political decision. The largest growing segment of the elec- torate is Hispanic women. Sotomayor is a perfect political choice by Obama. Picking justices based on their diversity is as old as the Supreme Court and country itsdlf. Ix) the 18th century they were chosen based on region. I.n the 19th century they were select- ed based on religious or denom- inational differences. In 1836 Andrew Jackson chose Roger Taney to be the first Catholic throughout that century. In 1916 Woodrow Wilson nominat- ed Louis Brandeis, which became the Jewish seat on the Court. It was only later that Lyndon Johnson appointed the first African-American Justice, Thurgood Marshall, in 1967. It was 1981 before the first female was appointed to the Court when Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O'Conner to the high tribunal. In the grand scheme of things there has not really been that much diversity on the Supreme Court. In the history of the Court white males have consti- Inside The Statehouse Steve Flowers tuted 106 of the 110 individuals who have served on the Court. If Sotomayor is confirmed, there will be six Catholics on the nine-member court. In gen- eral t+rms four of the justices are described as liberal and four are considered conserva- tive. There is one pivotal swing vote on the court. Sotomayor will replace a liberal Souter. Therefore, she does not really change the direction of the court. In fact, the court seems to be veering to the right. A case that has been closely watched in Alabama was heard last month. The Supreme Court decided that a provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is still needed to protect minor- ity voters• It was the most significant election case challenge since Bush y. Gore. The case con- cerns the law's requirement that certain state and local gov- ernments, mostly in" the South, must obtain permission or clearance from the Justice Department or a federal court before making any changes affecting voting. Alabama has been subjected to this law for the past four decades• It is cumbersome and expensive. It is generally con- sidered an act of vengeance and punishment to the Deep South by Lyndon Johnson for voting for Goldwater in 1964 when he carried the rest of the nation• It was widely known that there never lived a more vengeful and punitive politician than Lyndon Johnson. Nobody in Washington dared to cross Lyndon. The Supreme Court upheld the pre-clearance requirement in 1966. Congress has repeat- edly extended the law and most recently for 25 years in 2006. The court's decision on June 22 is not a clear cut verdict. In a narrow ruling the court kept intact special scrutiny for certain state's changes in elec- tion rules. However, the ruling allows for certain cities and counties that can show low propensity or ability to discrim- inate can get opted out of the law. The justices left the door open for a good many counties and jurisdictions to get removed from the shackles of the Voting Rights Act. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majori- ty, said, "Things have changed in the South." The justices all agreed that in practicality voting discrimina- tion is a thing of the past in the South. Although, they refused to rule that the pre'clearance requirement unconstitutional. Gov. Bob Riley submitted a brief on behalf of Alabama arguing that the law is no longer needed. He argued that it is obsolete, expensive and obtrusive. The Supreme Court came close to agreeing with the governor, but not'entirely. They left open the option for individ- ual governments to be removed from the Voting Rights Act. See you next week• Steve Flowers is Alabama's leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 75 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years m the State Legislature. He may be con" tacted at www.steveflowers.us. Chiming in on TU presidenn search Editor, The Tuskegee News: With the recent retirement announcement of the Tuskegee University (TU) President, Dr. Benjamin F. Payton, an official presidential search has been launched. Yes! A great challenge is before us. As a 1961 Alumna of Tuskegee (Institute) University, I take spe- cial interest in the process and look forward to a positive out- come. The rich history of Alma Mater, which has been sustained by solid leadership from Presidents Washington to Payton, is a hallmark of vision and academic excellence. For the new president, "Nothing less will be accepted." Just know that you have "A Charge to Keep" in the sustainability of our great insti- tution. In the hterary expression of 'he Tuskegee Song," Paul L. Dunbar characterized Alma Mater as: 'lhaskegee, Thou Pride of the Swift Growing South." Today, in the 21st Century, I envi- sion Tuskegee University as a 'historical and academic pride' of the nation and world. Thus, as anAlumna, I Chime in on the TU presidential search with A Proposed Classification of Attributes/Qualities for our future leader. • LEADERSHIP PROFILE: Leadership and participation in the arena of Higher Education is an expected given for the next TU President. (i.e. UNCF; NAFEO; other national collegiate affilia- tions). • HBCU PERSPECTIVE: Inherent knowledge and appre- ciation of the role of HBCU Institutions, with special empha- sis on Tuskegee's rich history is required. • ALUMNI RELATIONS and RELATIONSHIP: Of necessity for the next TU President will be a positive rela- tionship and mutual relations with the Alumni. Such roles should establish and maintain on-going collaboration and coor" dination on behalf of Alma Mater. • COMMUNITY RELATIONS: Positive connection and collabo- ration building in the communi- ties of The City of Tuskegee and Macon County is essential. • CORPORATE AND FUNDRAJ_SING PROFILE: In the times of a struggling economy, the TU President must bring a proven record of corpo- rate relations and successful fundraising. • VISION AND MISSION MANDATE: A high priority and mandate is the development and presenta- tion of clear and concise propos- als of vision and mission, accom- panied by proposed work strate- gies for accomplishment and implementation. The historic roots of TU, as well as 21st Century global demands on edu- cation, should be the basis for such. Elaine C. Harrington, '61 Assistant Parliamentarian Tuskegee National Alumni Association The Tuskegee News, July 16, 2009 Page A'5 f- State Public Health Department capable and very dedicated For some folks, the idea of "government" seems to conjure up something nefarious and uncontr61" lable. For the majority of us, we recognize that the government is "by and for the People," and we expect competency and effectiveness for the services and actions it pro- vides, and Legislative value for .the tax dollars Report that are spent. For the most Pebblin Warren part, we often don't pay much ,attention to the workings of gov- ernment agencies, and they often only come to light when something terrible has gone wrong. The opposite is also true. Some of the best work that our government does on a daily basis is never noticed. One of the shining examples of good work on the state level is the Alabama Department of Public Health. They do so much to affect quality of life, yet we rarely see or recognize the vast majority of their work. Sure we see the health rating in the restaurant by the local county health inspector, or we may get a copy of a birth certificate of a child or grandchild from Public Health issued from Montgomery. These are everyday occurrences that we have come to expect, and we can see eas- ily why they are important and how it affects our lives. Who wants to go into a restaurant that has a low health rating? The Alabama Department of Public Health does so much more. They are nationally recognized as running one of the best children's health insurance programs in the nation. "ALLKids" is a low'cost, compre- hensive healthcare coverage program for chil- dren under age 19. Its benefits include regular check-ups trod immunizations, sick child doctor visits, prescriptions, vision, and denal care. The program is primarily funded by the federal government with a state match. Families are eli- gible when they don't get health insurance at work and their income is too low to afford pur- chasing their own. The key is that Alabama insures more kids, and gets better health results from the children enrolled, than just about any other state. It is a terrific example of an effective program with an important goal: making sure kids stay healthy. Another high-profile story that is being quietly and competently handled by Public Health is the H1N1 influgnza, otherwise known as the "swine flu." The department continues to.momtor the virus throughout the state, collecting specimens and making tests to follow its spread. While this particular flu hasn't been as deadly as first feared, it could still be a major public health problem later on in the year. Dedicated state epidemiologists are following the cases, while the department and its staff are preparing the state plan for immunizations. If it gets to be a major epidemic, there are emergency plans for everything from hospitals to schools. It is a tremendous amount of work to prepare for a new flu strain, but each day the Alabama Department of Public Health is work- ing to get our state prepared. From emergency preparedness to monitoring hospital infection rates, from keeping track of prescription drug use, to following the healthi- ness of our food supply, the Alabama Department of Public Health goes about its business in a ded- icated and capable mapner. Pebblin Warren of Macon County represents District 82 in the Alabama House of Representatives. District 82 includea all of Macon Gounty and portions of Lee and Bullock Counties. Congressman Rogers offers mobile offices for his district Congressman Mike Rogers' mobile offices in Mcon County are open for citizens to address their .concerns The Notasulga office will be open at the Town Hall the first Thursday of each month from 9-11 a.m.; in Shorter at the Town Hall on the third Thursday of each month from 9:11 a.m.; and in Tuskegee at City Hall on the third Thursday of each month from 1-3 p.m. Rogers said his Field Representative and Director of Special Projects Alvin Lewis will con- tinue to be his representative for Macon County. Lewis will staff his mobile offices in the towns of Notasulga, horter and Tuskegee each month. Citizens may schedule an appointment with Lewis by calling (334) 277-4210. Rogers added that citizens may also write him at 324 Cannon Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20515, or visit his website at www.house.gov/mike-ropers for additional infor- mation. 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