6/1: Huntsville is Alabama’s bastard lovechild and pro-illegal crowd’s economic terrorism…

Guest today:

  • 8:00 AM – Speaker of the Alabama State House Mike Hubbard on his new book
  • 8:30 AM – State Representative Jim Patterson

I thought this was going to stop?

Madison County barely registered Thursday when Gov. Robert Bentley announced that the state would provide money for 105 road and bridge projects.

Madison County, the second largest metropolitan area in the state, will receive less than $1.5 million for two projects. That’s out of $110 million that Bentley will provide across the state in the first phase of the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP).

Madison County’s take from the program ranks 30th out of the 61 counties that received money.

That’s considerably less than Mobile County, which will receive more than $10.1 million. Other counties receiving larger shares include Jefferson with $7 million, Baldwin with $4.7 million, Lee with $4.9 million and Montgomery with $3.4 million.


Madison County’s total even falls short of two surrounding counties: Marshall County, the home of Alabama Department of Transportation Director John Cooper, will receive about $2.8 million and Morgan County will receive $3.9 million.

Most North Alabama counties received less. Limestone County will receive less than $1.2 million. Jackson County will receive less than $1.1 million. DeKalb County got $404,000.

Tony Harris, a spokesman for the state DOT, said one reason Madison County didn’t have more projects approved is that other counties turned in longer wish lists. For instance, nine projects were submitted from Madison County compared to 13 from Marshall County. Other factors, Harris said, were whether a project was eligible for federal highway money and whether a project was far enough along for the state to award a construction contract by the end of the year.

This money comes from those GARVEE bonds we talked about…

The state will borrow the money for the projects through the Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles Bond Program, or GARVEE bonds. The state issues the bonds, which are backed by federal highway money the state expects to receive.

‘By using GARVEE bonds, we are able to make much-needed improvements without raising taxes,’ Bentley said. ‘In addition, this program will create construction jobs across the state as projects move forward, and by making areas more attractive to prospective employers, the ATRIP program will help with the long-term recruitment of even more jobs in the future.’

More on GARVEE bonds

Governor outlined how the use of GARVEE bonds will finance the upgrades.  GARVEE is the term commonly used to describe the Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles Bond Program.  GARVEE bonds are a method of financing highway and transit infrastructure in various locations.

“In this time when state dollars are limited, GARVEE bonds will allow us to pave today’s roads with tomorrow’s federal dollars,” Governor Bentley said.  “Through the use of these bonds, we can fund much-needed road projects now, rather than wait for federal funding years from now.”

“Borrowing makes good financial sense in this case because the cost of borrowing is as low as it’s ever been, and the cost of inflation on these construction projects is significantly higher than the interest rates we’ll pay on the bonds,” the Governor added.  “In addition, the construction jobs this program will create are critical to continuing our state’s economic growth.”

Tomorrow’s road dollars… just saying.

RSA excuses continue

Bronner said the interest in hard and secured assets started in 1985, time of a great bear market, as he watched billions of stock-market holdings evaporate in the flash of a ticker.

“I wondered if the next time the markets crashed we could do better than stocks and bonds,” Bronner said.

The nontraditional investments are just part of the financial profile of the RSA. On an overall basis, the RSA out-invested its peers nationwide by about 1 percent in the first half of the year, said plan investment director Marc Green Wednesday, speaking at the board meeting. The six-month total return was 12.9 percent, he said, below RSA expectations of 15.8 percent.

Overall returns matter for the RSA. In general, if average annual returns fall below a target return of 8 percent, the state pays more to keep the pension fund financially sound, but if returns exceed 8 percent, the government pays less.

The Employees Retirement System, the largest of the public pension plans that make up the RSA, posted an average annual investment gain of 7.16 percent for the 20 years ending March 31, according to State Street Investment Analytics. That is compared to the median return of 7.98 percent for 54 public pension funds nationwide, each with more than $1 billion in assets.

While investment returns matter, Bronner said the tax revenues created with his investments also matter. That’s because the public agencies that employ RSA members have to contribute money toward the retirement accounts of their workers. Most do so with appropriations from the Legislature. The $1.1 billion in tax revenue from RSA-spurred personal and business incomes amounts to a subsidy for those amounts, Bronner said.

How long can this guy keep his job after these returns?

Don’t worry. without RSA we may be living in a 3rd world country…

In-state investments by the Retirement Systems of Alabama over the past 21 years have generated jobs, tax revenue and additions to gross-state product that are worth more than if the money had been invested in traditional pension-fund investments, an economist said Wednesday.

Keivan Deravi, a economist at Auburn University Montgomery, told RSA board members at their meeting Wednesday that the pension plan for 300,000 active and retired state workers invested $5.6 billion from 1990 through 2011 in so-called “alternative” investments such as golf courses and business loans.

The $5.6 billion represents only 10 percent of the RSA’s investments during the 21-year period, with the other 90 percent used for stocks, bonds and other purchases.

That same $5.6 billion, if invested in stocks and bonds at the RSA’s normal rate of return for the period, would have yielded proceeds of $541.6 million, Deravi said.

Instead, deployed as they were, those dollars have created $1.1 billion in state tax revenues paid by workers and companies given a start or hand up by the RSA. About $14.3 billion in paychecks have been collected from people who have filled 282,000 jobs created by RSA investment. Gross-state product rose by $28 billion from the Alabama investments, Deravi said.

Remember, this is the smartest guy ever!

TUSCALOOSA | I don’t know how many times I have heard people who should know refer to Dr. David Bronner, the chief executive officer of the $30 billion Retirement Systems of Alabama trust funds “the smartest man in Alabama.”

Bail em out

Bill Clinton is the latest Democrat to point out how absurd the attacks on Bain Capitol are

Former President Bill Clinton on Thursday night became the latest surrogate for President Obama to stray from campaign talking points, saying GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s business experience “crosses the qualification threshold.”

In an interview on the Piers Morgan show on CNN, Clinton said the Obama campaign shouldn’t spend its energy criticizing Romney’s work at Bain Capital, an argument that has taken central stage in the debate over which candidate can better lead the U.S. economy.

“I don’t think we ought to get into the position where we say, ‘This is bad work. This is good work,'” Clinton told guest host Harvey Weinstein, a staunch Obama supporter who has helped raise millions of dollars for the president’s reelection campaign.

“There’s no question that in terms of getting up and going to the office and basically performing the essential functions of the office, a man who has been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold,” he said.

Earlier this month, Obama’s team launched an aggressive campaign against Romney’s tenure as the head of investment firm Bain Capital, which the GOP contender touts as preparing him to manage the nation’s economy.

In a series of ads, the campaign ripped Romney for shuttering business including a steel mill and paper plant, claiming he prioritized maximizing investor profit over protecting jobs, laying off hundreds of people in the process.

Clinton’s comments come on the heels of comments by other Obama surrogates, who have said that the president’s team shouldn’t focus on Bain. Two weeks ago Newark Mayor Cory Booker said the campaign’s attacks on Bain were “nauseating.”  Former Obama auto czar Steve Rattner also recently called the campaign’s ads against Bain “unfair.” Both Booker and Rattner have since walked back their original statements.

It should be framed like this… Romney used private dollars to buy failing business, Obama used public funds to create failing businesses.

So when AL’s pro-illegal crowd couldn’t prove the economy was hurt by HB56 they set out to hurt it

Opponents to Alabama’s immigration law announced the next phase in their fight against HB56 and the recent tweaks to the law made by the court system.

The opponents say they are disappointed state lawmakers did not do more to change the law to make it less punitive for undocumented workers.

Three civil rights and labor rights leaders say they are planning to hit the state in the pocketbook by launching a public education program discouraging tourists from vacationing at Alabama beaches as well as protesting at 70 Hyundai plants.

Three leaders spoke in a press call Thursday, May 31: Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Mary Bauer, Legal Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Cindy Estrada, National Vice President of the United Auto Workers.

Henderson called HB 56 the most vile immigration law in the country.

“Our message to legislature is simple if we can’t appeal to your humanity ten we will appeal to your pocketbook,” he said.

Bauer says the immigration law continues to create chaos through what she calls a “Scarlet Letter” provision to bully and intimidate people not legally living in Alabama by putting them on a list. She said other states should view Alabama as a cautionary tale, and that Gov. Bentley is “just kicking a can down the road” by not changing or repealing the law.

Estrada, with United Auto Workers, says she believes the violation of labor laws are hurting working people. She says the plan to protest against Hyundai dealerships will include an educational campaign telling customers the company didn’t stand up against the “racist law.” The plan is to protest at 70 Hyundai dealerships with signs carrying the slogan “Stand up against hate, stand up for our children.” The protests will be in other states as well as Alabama.

My favorite absurd line…

Bauer says their group is not interested in turning people away from dealerships, saying it’s not a boycott but rather an educational campaign.

The group of national and civil rights leaders also say they are planning an advertising campaign to stop people from visiting Alabama’s beaches. Henderson says the group’s intention was never to destabilize Alabama’s economy, but the “lack of action by the legislature forced their hand.”

Economic terrorism, plain and simple.

Gov. Bentley signed the revised immigration bill into law despite some concerns about it. In a press conference in Birmingham on Thursday, he said, “Some protests are not going to stop someone from buying a Hyundai Sonato.”

Bentley added, “Don’t boycott Alabama, boycott Washington for not doing more about immigration.”

John Edwards is a scumbag, is he a criminal?

Apparently not

John Edwards’ campaign finance fraud case ended in a mistrial Thursday when jurors acquitted him on one of six charges but were unable to decide whether he misused money from two wealthy donors to hide his pregnant mistress while he ran for president.

The trial exposed a sordid sex scandal that unfolded while Edwards’ wife was dying of cancer, but prosecutors couldn’t convince jurors that the ex-U.S. senator and 2004 vice presidential candidate masterminded a $1 million cover-up of his affair.

“While I do not believe I did anything illegal, or ever thought I was doing anything illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong and there is no one else responsible for my sins,” Edwards said on the courthouse steps.

He also said he had hope for his future.

“I don’t think God’s through with me. I really believe he thinks there’s still some good things I can do.” Edwards would have faced up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines if convicted of all charges. He did not testify, along with his mistress Rielle Hunter and the two donors whose money was at issue.

Hometown boy does good…

Lynn Collyar is a hometown boy that made good. Really good.

In a formal ceremony this afternoon, Maj. Gen. Lynn Collyar will assume command of Redstone Arsenal and the Army Aviation and Missile Command. He replaces Maj. Gen. James Rogers, who is retiring from the Army.

Collyar, a 1975 graduate of Huntsville High School, becomes a leader of national defense organizations that for decades have fueled the local economy and provided hundreds of thousands of jobs for area residents – including his parents.

Axelrod loses his mind when heckled

BuzzFeed caught video of the protesters drowning out Axelrod with bullhorns and chants of “WHERE ARE THE JOBS, WHERE ARE THE JOBS.”

At one point, Axelrod responded with dialogue reminiscent of an Aaron Sorkin film, “You can’t handle the truth my friends.”

If he was a Republican, the press would be talking about how angry this guy was. Instead these are out of control protestors..

Loud and rowdy supporters of Mitt Romney in Boston drowned out an attempt by President Obama campaign’s top strategist to attack the former Republican governor on his home turf.

In a morning news conference on the steps of the Massachusetts Statehouse, David Axelrod, one of Mr. Obama’s senior strategists, tried mostly in vain on Thursday to level Mr. Obama’s latest broadside on Mr. Romney’s record as governor of the state.

Instead, he was booed, heckled and chanted down by supporters of Mr. Romney who refused to let up even for a moment as Mr. Axelrod and Democratic state lawmakers sought to make their case. The group included several staff members in his Boston headquarters, including an aide’s dog wearing a Romney T-shirt.

With cameras rolling, the Republican hecklers yelled “We Want Mitt!” and “Broken Record!” and held signs that said “Go Back to Chicago!” Mr. Axelrod appeared bemused but rattled by them, at one point saying: “You can shout down speakers my friends, but it’s hard to Etch A Sketch away the truth.”


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