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December 9, 2010     The Tuskegee News
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December 9, 2010
 

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-3 Page A-6, The Tuskegee News, December 9, 2010 // (From Page A-l) offenders)," Macon County Sheriff David Warren said. "Once that bed is full, all we can do is listen to people complain as we turn these kids back over to their par- ents. And the parents are saying, 'To hell with it."' Thus far in 2010, 365 complaints have been fried in Macon County Juvenile Court. Many in the Macon County law enforcement and court communities feel that increasing the number of spaces to hold juveniles while they await hearings would greatly reduce incidents of delin- quency. When a juvenile is accused of a delin- quent act, he.or she is subject to arrest the same as an adult. But after that, the child's case is sent to the Juvenile Court's intake officer who decides if probable cause exists to put the case on the Juve- nile Court docket. District Judge Aubrey Ford, who pre- sides over Macon County Juvenile Court, said the next step, depending on several factors that include the nature of the of- fense, is to negotiate. A meeting is held with the accused child, his parents or guardians and the victim to see if a trial can be averted. If not, the juvenile has a right to be represented by an attorney in trial. But trial dates in Macon County only come around twice a year, so here's where the issue arises. As funded by the'Ala- bama Department of Youth Services (DYS), the Lee County Youth Detention Center provides locked .security for one Macon County juvenile offender awaiting final adjudicatio n and placement• 'Ne see a lot of repeat offenders," said Macon County Assistant District Attor- ney Kalia Lane. "Once they're adjudi" cated it may be up to"three or four weeks before they can go to the Department of Youth Services. In the meantime, the kids are back on the street." Harvey Maxwell, Macon County's Chief Juvenile Probation Officer, said he helps decide who gets the bed based on a num- ber of factors including nature and sever- ity of the offense and if the child is a flight risk. He added that not having enough beds is rarely an issue, as the Center often allows him to '%orrow" beds that aren't occupied. So to Maxwell, the cost to the county of adding a bed at the Detention Center - $18,000 per bed per year- isn't necessary. Session (From Page A-l) officials and public employees. • An end to unlimited gift-giving by lobbyists and others to public officiaN and public employees. • A ban on pass-through pork spend- ing. • Subpoena power for the Alabama Ethics Commission. • The outlawing of all transfers be- tween political action committees (PACs). • The end of"double dipping" by legis- lators. "Mandatory ethics training for elected officials and public employees at all levels of government; and • Creation of an online, searchable database of lobbyists' disclosure reports so citizens can see who is trying to influ- ence their elected leaders and how. Throughout his two terms in office, Governor Riley has pushed for passage of these reforms to bring more account- ability and transparency to state gov- ernment. But each year, the Legislature failed to pass them. "Last month's election results that gave Republicans their first majority in the Legislature in more than 100 years should have sent a 'resounding message' to politicians that citizens are 'sick and tired and embarrassed' of 'the corrupt political culture that hurts our state,"' Riley said. 'rhanks to last month's elections, we have an historic opportunity to not only reform this corrupt political culture but end it. The opportunity to enact real re" forms has never been better and the need has never been greater." Beasley, a three-term.member of the Alabama House, recalled Riley vetoed an ethics bill a couple of years ago. Beasley defeated former Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford in a runoff for the Democratic Party nomination and Re- publican Dr. Kim West in the general election for the District 28 senate seat. Riley has been criticized by some for calling the Special Session before the first Regular Session of the Legislature early next year. 'This is the first time in many years -- about 50 I believe -- that a Special Session has been called before the first Regular Session," Beasley said. "A Spe- cial Session is considered normally for an extraordinary or emergency situa- tion. I don't see this falling under being an emergency. It seems to me that there has been a short amount of time to study the bills." Like Beasley, Warren is concerned about the legal ramifications of the Spe- cial Session. '˘It's strange going into session before we've even organized," Warren pointed out. "I have some questions about the constitutionality of what we will be doing." Warren and Beasley were in Tuscaloosa for an orientation session that primarily is for new members of the Legislature. Beasley said late Tues- day that orientation topics dealt with the economic climate, ethics and a re- port from the Legislative Budget Office about the budget process. The orientation was scheduled to con- clude about noon Wednesday following an address from Gov.-elect Robert Bent- ley. Legislators were to be in Mont" gomery for the 4 p.m. opening of the Special Session. A public hearing on pro" posed ethics reform legislation was scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday. Beasley, who said he was shocked that he had to spend nearly $900,000 with a primary, runoff and general election to win his Senate seat, still has a cam- paign debt to pay off. He and Warren both expressed sup- port for some of Riley's proposals, but are concerned that there is not enough clarity with the bills. The double'dipping ban that would prevent any state employee from hold- ing two state-paid jobs is a proposal that definitely needs some discussion, both agree. The double-dipping law only ap- plies to employees of the two-year col- lege system at this point. Warren works in the Department of Postsecondary Education with ADIT and is affected by the law already on the books. She was a party to a lawsuit questioning the law, but the law was up- held by the State Supreme Court. That means Warren has to tahe leave time from her state job to attend to her leg- islative duties, which are considered parttime. She's eligible for full retire- ment in 11 months and may follow that course. "The way the expanded bill reads, someone who is a teacher, for instance, couldn't serve on a city council or county commission because they would be state-paid jobs," Warren noted. '[ don't think that's right." Two members of the Tuskegee City Council -- Louise Fields and Mac Doris Williams -- work for the Macon County Board of Education. Under Riley's ex- panded double-dipping measure, they couldn't be paid for their jobs and as a members of the council." Beasley said he has no problem ban- ning PAC-to-PAC transfers, but also fa- vors putting a limit on campaign spending• Warren also supports a ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers that confuse where contributions initiate• However, Warren believes that non- profit organizations that become in- volved in political campaigns should be required to reveal their financing. A key proposal in Riloy's package is creating subpoena power for the Ala- bama Ethics Commission. Warren isn't necessarily against that concept, but worries about one aspect of adding that element for the Ethics Com- mission. 'I would like to see some very specific details on how subpoena power would be applied. My concern is that the power could be abused for political reasons," Warren explained. Beasley and Warren recalled the House has passed ethics reform legisla- tion in recent years, but each time the measures died in the Senate. One final concern by both legislators is how much input their Democratic Party will have with republicans now in the majority. "I feel like in the past we have tried to work with the other side in the House," Warren commented. "I hope that it will be the case now and not the republicans just pushing .things through with no consideration about what we have to say•" Beasley is taking a wait-and-see ap- proach because he believes there is much confusion about the Special Ses- sion process at this point. He also would like to see Cooperation on both sides of the aisle. Beasley did note that Riley's proposal doesn't address no-bid contracts, a cam- paign promise by Riley before the 2006 election that the governor did not follow- up on. "I just don't see the number in court to make it worth it," he said, adding that many of the offenders he deals with aren't committing felonies and that he believes a large portion of the burglaries in Macon County aren't committed by ju" veniles. "Kids steal TVs and ATVs (all-terrain vehicles), not tools, lawnmowers and cop- per," Maxwell said. But he's one of the few who feel that way. "Juveniles continue to commit viola- tions and crimes between court appear- ances," Tuskegee Police Chief Lester Patrick said. "It's not all of them, of course, but it happens because there's no place to put them:" To officials though, adding detention space is just one part of the fix. To them, the problem isn't the current system. They say the remedy begins in the home, continues in schools and ends with more local law enforcement. '23nless these kids commit murder, they don't learn anything," Warren said. "Even if we had more beds we would still need parents to do what they're supposed to do. We can't arrest ourselves out of this." Lane, Patrick, Warren, Maxwell and Ford all echoed this sentiment to some extent. Parenting is priority i.n quelling youth delinquency in Macon County. Su- pervision, however difficult it may be within single-parent homes, is key. Ford said the state is encouraging com- munity'based programs, which the Macon Juvenile Court is already taking part in. Thanks to a grant through East Central Mental Health in Tuskegee, the court has established three teams of counselors that operate in Macon County - one in the schools, one in the juvenile department and one that makes home visitations. He said the goal is to avoid re" turning a child from the courts to a dys- functional family system. "I know the reaction from the public is to lock them all up, but what are we re" ally solving?" Ford said. Officials also said they believed an em- phasis on community outreach from or- ganizational bodies like churches would add substantial relief, and adding com- munity counseling programs would cer- tainly reduce crime. However, all this comes at a higher cost than an additional bed for offenders. 'Might now there is no solution," Lane said. %ecause it's all going to take re- sources." raraae, . (From Page A-l) Davis said the school district is in the process of lining up bands and cheerleaders to participate. Als0 ex- pected to join the parade are churches and civic organizations. Santa Claus will be in the Square after the parade, to meet with chil- dren. Tuskegee Mayor Omar Neal is en- couraging area residents, churches, businesses and other organizations to help provide presents for children in the community under age 12. "This is a gift to the community," Neal said. The mayor requests gifts -- prima, rily toys -- in the $5 range be pur- chased from local businesses. Santa Claus will give gifts away after the parade. Neal asks that gifts not be wrapped so they can be sorted by gender and age. Gifts may be dropped off at the .... 2 ....... , • .b mayor s office m Tuskegee Municipal Complex prior to December 16. For • more, contact the mayor's office at (334) 720-0514. Notasulga Parade December 11 Santa Claus will be joined by the Notasulga High School band, cheer- leaders, youth football teams and churches for Notasulga's Christmas Parade that begins at 2 p.m. Satur- day. "There will also be horses and even a cow," said a spokesman at Nota- sulga Town Hall. Vulcan Materials officials will serve as Grand Marshall• Parade participants will line up at the City Shop starting at about 1:30 p.m. and proceed past town hall, around the block and back to town hall. -- 'Jacquelyn Carlisle contributed to this story