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August 22, 2000



Regular Harbinger readers will notice a number of changes in this issue of the paper, which kicks off the 19th year of publishing. One of the changes is the departure of Bill Patterson from our staff writers. Bill has moved to Montrose, CO to work as an organizer for Western Colorado Congress. For many years, Bill has written regularly for The Harbinger on important local environmental and political issues; he broke the story in the summer of 1992 on the delinquent sum-in-lieu payments promised to Mobile's public schools by industries financed by industrial development boards, which, to this date, remains unresolved. Bill's contributions will be sorely missed, and his (and Margie Welch's) move is Harbinger's and Mobile's loss and Colorado's gain.

The Harbinger has seen several staff changes in its short existence as an alternative press, and has made changes to adapt and to grow, so the paper can continue to strive to be the best in reporting the social and cultural conditions of the Mobile community. Last year, Pat and Ernie Pinson appeared out of nowhere, and their consistent coverage on behalf of The Harbinger of local performing-art activities was a godsend. This year, Ernie will be writing from Nanjing University, and we are sure Harbinger readers will find his new column, "Letters from China," which premieres this issue, an interesting alternative from the commercial media about China and the Chinese people. Another new addition is Konrad Kressley, who brings his interest in and expertise on future studies and political science to the editorial board.

There is one constant among the changes, however, and that is the dependence on Harbinger readers and supporters for continuation as an independent press in Mobile. Last year, donations from readers and supporters constituted 15 percent of our budget. Your donation of $15 or more for a subscription goes a long way toward defraying printing and mailing costs, since we have an all-volunteer staff. Do your part to support an independent community newspaper in Mobile.

Life Forms by Dan Silver - Revisited

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Read more comics in the Life Forms Archive!

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

November is going to be a very important month. We get to vote on the new President. We also will have the opportunity to stop the "Robber Barons" in the State of Alabama from "raiding" the Alabama Trust Fund.

The proposed Amendment to the Constitution of Alabama sponsored by Rep. Knight, HB894, states:

"Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to establish the County and Municipal Government Capital Improvement Trust Fund and the Alabama Capital Improvement Trust Fund to be administered in accordance with the provisions of this amendment; to redistribute a portion of the Oil and Gas Capital Payments now being paid into the Alabama Trust Fund under Amendment No. 450 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 to the funds created by this Amendment; and to authorize the issuance of General Obligation Bonds in an aggregate principal amount not exceeding $350 million for the purpose of: (I) making substantial capital improvements to the state dock facilities at the Port of Mobile, (ii) promoting economic development and industrial recruitment in this State, (iii) providing the local government match monies required to issue federal grant revenue bonds for road and bridge improvements and (iv) providing finds to municipal government for infrastructure improvements; and to appropriate monies in the Alabama Capital Improvement Trust Fund for the payment of debt service on General Obligation Bonds authorized by this amendment."

Hopefully the concerned voter will vote N0-N0-NO.

This proposed Amendment is an outright attempt of wholesale robbery as the Alabama Trust Fund was set up when the State of Alabama sold out to Mobil, Exxon, Shell and other petroleum interests and is set up as a Perpetual Trust.

The royalties and oil/gas revenues received by the State from leasing, drilling operations, production facilities, transmission corridors and so forth in our state waters and bottomlands of Mobile Bay, Mississippi Sound, and Gulf of Mexico, and from the "explosive growth" in the Outer Continental Shelf or the federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico (off Fort Morgan and Dauphin Island) go into the Alabama Trust Fund in Perpetuity...or so we hope.

The public concerns, our coastal resources have been ignored, threatened and in some instances destroyed and these monies are supposed to be tradeoff monies.

The Trust Fund principal is probably in the billions of dollars and at present only the accrued interest is used for special funds such as the Alabama Forever Wild Land Trust. Set up in this trust is the Forever Wild (Male) Board of Trustees and our Southern member is John Borom, who is also a member on the Mobile Bay Audubon Society Board of Directors. This selected Board decides on lands to be acquired "in perpetuity" and recently acquired 30,000+ acres of Mobile-Tensaw Delta. Lands have been acquired all across the state with funds from the Alabama Trust Fund -- using only the interest.

In reading HB894 presented by Rep. Knight (and others?) I was mad, BEWILDERED, SCARED AND FOUND IT UNBELIEVABLE what is being proposed in the Amendment:

$350 million of the Alabama Trust Fund will be authorized to:

a) "make substantial capital improvements to the State Docks facilities at the Port of Mobile." (This $100 million will open the door to the Trust Fund making the Alabama taxpayers pay for every proposal and that would include bad ones along with bad management plans as well.)

b) "promote economic development and industrial recruitment in State of Alabama." (Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs [ADECA] and Chambers of Commerce already have millions of dollars to do just that and those of us living in coastal Alabama resent the "dirty industries’ they locate in our area without any consideration of the environmental impacts and threat to human health and life.)

c) "provide local Governments match monies for bridge and road improvement." (The monies coastal governments receive seem to allow poorly planned roads and bridges and mass transit, satellite parking, ferry systems do not seem to be in any plans.)

d) "municipal governments will be provided funds for infrastructure improvements." (Governmental bodies and public works departments need to get into the 21st Century and change their usual way of doing things and start using innovative technology. Our natural resources and public health need proper protection.)

e) The really scary part is in "setting up the Bond Commission -- with full authority -- three members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business and all proceedings shall be reduced to writing and recorded in a substantial record book and filed with the Director of Finance." (The power is within this Commission with no attempt for public involvement or oversight and this Commission will be handling and dispersing multi-millions of dollars.)

When you vote in November find this Amendment to the Alabama Constitution and vote NO-NO-NO.

Mrs. Myrt Jones
Mobile Bay Audubon Society

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