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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Helena, Alabama



First a shot of the new Helena Middle School that is under construction. Surrounded by great scenery.

A moment to brag about my city since it was discussed in the last post. I can't tell you enough about the good things in Helena, and why my wife and I have joined the Buck Creek Civitan Club to work and improve Helena, if that is even possible. I can't possibly tell you all about Helena here, but I will give you some pics and links. For a good place to start, should you care to move here, go to The City of Helena website.

A Helena Blog


Information about Helena provided by Money Magazine which ranked Helena the #13 city in the country to raise a family.

Ok, so Buck Creek is the most interesting geographical feature of Helena. It runs through the middle of downtown. When I say downtown, I mean all three blocks of it.


One of the most fun activities in the city is the "Sundown Cinemas" hosted in the amphitheater located by Buck Creek. Every Friday night throughout the summer family movies are played. The first weekend we lived here was my oldest daughter's birthday. I picked up a few of her friends in Montgomery and brought them here for a weekend slumber party, and they saw "E.T." for the first time. I know, a classic for us but my kids have never seen it. So we took our folding chairs and went to the park with about 400 other people and watched a movie in the glorious August evening. Here is a pic of a very crowded stage there when Bo Bice, a Helena resident, came home to play with Lynard Skynard.


A shot of the main street in downtown Helena.


I am going to give you one more picture, and it doesn't really do you much good except to get an overview. Oak Mountain State Park is 10 minutes from my home. It covers almost the entirety of Oak Mountain, and I can see part of it called Double Oak Mountain from my street. From my yard at the top of a hill I can see Shades Crest, which is in the other direction. Wonderful views from where I live.


33 Posts From Readers:

Siegrfried said...

Nice Pictures!

The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth said...

What was it tha Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz ? "There's no place like home!"

rockync said...

Great pictures and I did not know Bo was from your town! I think you are very fortunate to love the place you live so much. I love the little town I live in also, near the Blue Ridge Mountains. No matter where I travel, I can't wait to get home. That's a great feeling, isn't it?

Robert (Conservative Commentary) said...

Rocky, you live in a great area too. I won't bore you with details, but I was in Jacksonville at Camp Lejeune, and my traverls have taken me to Lynchburg and Charlottesville. I was there for about a six week period some five years ago. On a couple of days I went hiking to a great waterfall in Lynchburg, and spent hours just driving in the mountains.

Bo doesn't live here anymore, as I think he has bought a home in Nashville. But his family is still here and he returns home often.

ECOPHOTOS said...

Robert, not meaning to change the subject or break up this pastoral reverie, but this story is making national headlines:

Attorney General Woods has this to say about the Bush Justice Department's prosecution of Siegelman: "I personally believe that what happened here is that they targeted Don Siegelman because they could not beat him fair and square. This was a Republican state and he was the one Democrat they could never get rid of."

In other words, not being able to beat Siegelman at the polls, Woods believes that his own party corruptly used the criminal justice process to take out an adversary. This is an extraordinary, heavy accusation. Not something that a senior Republican would raise easily about his own party. And the facts back the accusation up, beginning to end.


Robert, since this is your home state, what are the local networks saying about this case? What are fellow Alabamans saying about this? There is yet more suspicious activity surrounding this story:

60 MINUTES SEGMENT BLACKED OUT IN ALABAMA

An Alabama TV station's outage during a "60 Minutes" segment about the state's former governor has stirred speculation that the blackout may have been politically motivated. The lead item about former Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman wasn't seen by viewers of WHNT-TV, a CBS affiliate in Huntsville, Ala. The station initially blamed the network, but said Monday there was a problem with its satellite receiver …

My question is this: Is the land of the free and the brave turning the land of the Political Gulag and Cowardly Thug? This is very disturbing. What is your take?

Robert (Conservative Commentary) said...

The Siegelman story is one that won't go away for the state.

I don't see the case against Siegelman as being a political hit. He was not the sitting governor at the time, and it was a federal case and not a state one.

He was not the state's favorite governor. One thing that constantly surprises me about Alabama is that for federal offices we elect republicans, but the democrats run this state. I don't know if the Alabama GOP has enough power to pull off a stunt like this if they wanted to. Siegelman was beaten fair and square, and there was no Siegelman dynasty like the days og George Wallace. Unless my memory is failing, he only served one term.

Siegelman was tied in with some others who also recieved prison time. One station in Huntsville not airing the program doesn;t necessarily speak of a political censorship. While most of the state's democrat consituency is up north, one station lacking the show would not black out everyone who might be concerned.

Mogul said...

See HERE

ECOPHOTOS said...

Robert, it is hard for me to trivialize the Siegelman case because there are too many suspicious threads. Lets do a fact check:

-- A man is serving seven years in a federal prison
-- He was convicted of corruption based on evidence that was thin at best and now seems to be unraveling
-- Key testimony came from a criminal who was pressured to testify in exchange for a lighter sentence
-- Documentary evidence contradicts the testimony of the criminal but the prosecutor withheld that evidence from the defense, and the document was never presented to the jury
-- A whistleblower named Dana Jill Simpson testified before Congress that she overheard Bill Canary promise to “orchestrate the political prosecution of Siegelman”
-- Simpson was recruited by Karl Rove to take potentially uncompromising photos
-- Bill Canary’s wife, Leura, served as one of the federal prosecutors in the case; Canary himself ran Riley’s campaign for governor
-- In 2002, Leura Canary tried to bring an indictment against Siegelman; a federal judge threw out the case
-- In 2006, as Siegelman was planning to run again for governor, Leura Canary brought new charges against him
-- During the new trial, the jury deadlocked twice before convicting on tainted evidence
-- Federal Judge Mark Fuller remanded Siegelman directly to prison without the customary 45 waiting time pending appeal.
-- The DOJ refuses to release any documents of the case
-- The CBS 60 Minutes broadcast of the story last Sunday was blacked out in parts of Alabama; the blackout lasted 12 minutes concurrent with the airing of the story
-- The same station lost its broadcasting license in 1969 for failing to air news of the civil rights marches
-- The station is owned by the Bass brothers of Texas, former business partners of GWB

Bottom line, Robert, there is a mighty stench surrounding this story. Today, I noticed, links to this story have been disappearing from the Internet (I have saved copies). This looks like a political hatchet job not matter how you spin it. And it angers me that a man is serving a 7-year sentence in a federal prison for what appears to be a political persecution.

Is this the America of my ancestors or is it turning into a Gulag?

Robert (Conservative Commentary) said...

Siegelman was ethically challenged from his first day in office. You may detect an odor, but I seriously doubt a conspiracy to remove this story from the airwaves.

I have worked with Leura Canary on several projects involving the Joint Terrorism Task Force. She is a dedicated professional who is extremely bright and I have never heard a single slight against her as far as principle and ethics.

I will address several of your points:
-- A man is serving seven years in a federal prison Because of an ethics conviction. He wasn't dragged from his bed in the middle of the night and thrown into a concentration camp
-- Key testimony came from a criminal who was pressured to testify in exchange for a lighter sentence This one is no point at all. When you are dealing with criminals, then the people who know the facts of a crime are criminals! Do you think Siegelamn's preacher would know enough to testify? Further, If I knew key facts I sure wouldn't give them up without a deal.
-- Documentary evidence contradicts the testimony of the criminal but the prosecutor withheld that evidence from the defense, and the document was never presented to the jury
-- Bill Canary’s wife, Leura, served as one of the federal prosecutors in the case; Canary himself ran Riley’s campaign for governor
-- In 2002, Leura Canary tried to bring an indictment against Siegelman; a federal judge threw out the case
-- In 2006, as Siegelman was planning to run again for governor, Leura Canary brought new charges against him This case continued in the interim period between 02 and 06. The timing of an indictment is nothing more than the strategic use of an ace when playing Spades. If he didn't want it to affect his run for governor, he should have cooperated and put it to rest, which he did not do
-- During the new trial, the jury deadlocked twice before convicting on tainted evidence Tainted evidence? Putting some spin on this or do we trust 60 Minutes so much that we have no faith in the federal judiciary to recognize evidence
-- Federal Judge Mark Fuller remanded Siegelman directly to prison without the customary 45 waiting time pending appeal.Customary but not required. The people of Alabama wanted this put to rest and send it to the archives. We were tired of hearing about it and tired of Siegelman playing the victim in the national media.
-- The DOJ refuses to release any documents of the case
-- The CBS 60 Minutes broadcast of the story last Sunday was blacked out in parts of Alabama; the blackout lasted 12 minutes concurrent with the airing of the story
-- The same station lost its broadcasting license in 1969 for failing to air news of the civil rights marches39 years ago they lsot their license yet that qualifies as supporting information regarding the broadcast? The people who ran the station in '69 are probably dead by now
-- The station is owned by the Bass brothers of Texas, former business partners of GWB Which must taint everything they do, and since they had a productive business relationship with GW Bush then they must not love their mothers. Lets keep this simple. What good would blacking out a new broadcast in Hunstville do to a national story? Nothing, No impact. What would be the point?

ECOPHOTOS said...

I have worked with Leura Canary on several projects involving the Joint Terrorism Task Force. She is a dedicated professional who is extremely bright and I have never heard a single slight against her as far as principle and ethics.

It is common practice to recuse oneself from a legal proceeding if a conflict-of-interest, direct or implied, would compromise the fair and impartial dispensation of justice. Leura Canary is the wife of Bill Canary, who served as campaign manager during Riley's bid for governor ... a clear and unambiguous conflict-of-interest.

Now lets talk about unethical conduct: rules of evidence require prosecutors to share evidence with the defense. In this case, the alleged payoff check, claimed in court to have been paid during the meeting between Siegelman and Scrushy, was not issued until two days later, contrary to claims made by Prosecutor Canary during the trial.

Last point: Even the Prosecutor claimed that no funds were ever pocketed for personal gain. The check for $500,000 was in fact a donation, and the donation was correctly made. The subsequent political appointment was made for a volunteer non-paying job.

When a presidential candidate gets a large contribution, and the contributor gets an ambassadorship, it is called patronage. In the case, the difference is: What is patronage for one party is considered a crime for the other.

39 years ago they lsot [sic] their license yet that qualifies as supporting information regarding the broadcast?

What is the statistical probability of a 12 minute blackout occuring at precisely the same interval of time as the broadcast segment?

Putting some spin on this or do we trust 60 Minutes so much that we have no faith in the federal judiciary to recognize evidence

I am surprised you even made this statement. A free press is our only other hedge against corruption and tyranny, and "NO," I do not trust the government.

If this were you sitting in a federal pen for 7 years under these circumstances, how would your wife and kids feel about this?

Lindsay Beyerstein said...

Nick Bailey's testimony was the only evidence against Siegelman. Bailey wasn't just any old criminal, he was a criminal who got a major reduction in his sentence because was willing to testify against Siegelman.

By his own account, Bailey wasn't at the meeting where Scrushy allegedly bribed Siegelman. Bailey has no idea whether there was an explicit quid pro quo--even if he remembers word-for-word what Siegelman described the meeting. Bailey claimed that Siegelman came out of the meeting with Scrushy's check--but records disprove his claim. The check wasn't cut that day.

We'll never know who said what in that closed-door meeting, years ago. Siegelman is innocent until proven guilty, and the prosecution didn't prove anything.

ECOPHOTOS said...

A point of clification:

From my last comment (above): Now lets talk about unethical conduct: rules of evidence require prosecutors to share evidence with the defense.

I did not completely finish this thought. The prosecutor withheld the actual check (and the date on that check) from defense counsel. Thus key evidence could not be presented to the jury, evidence that would have resulted in acquital.

This case is by no means trivial, as you would have us believe. These events constitute a prosecutorial abuse. Whether you like Mr. Siegelman or not in personal terms is not the point. Our system of justice demands absolute integrity. Anything less is a miscarriage of justice.

Conservative Chic said...

Robert, it looks like a beautiful place to live. I've experienced that a few years ago when we moved to Tennessee. It was truly a wonderful place, but without family it felt very empty. So I guess home is truly where the heart is in my case!

Akicage said...

This comment has been removed because it linked to malicious content. Learn more.

Anonymous said...

This article by Scott Horton (lecturer at Columbia University Law School):
Justice in Alabama

The Beltway B@stard said...

Nice town Robert. How ya been? Just doing a little catch up.

Shoot me an e-mail, I tried the one I have for you, but I don't think it went through.

Shaw said...

I'm wondering, Robert, do you read anything but Alabama newspapers to get information on the Siegelman scandal?

"The Siegelman prosecution was commenced as the result of a plan hatched between senior figures in the Alabama Republican Party and Karl Rove. This connection is not coincidental, because Rove was once fired by the first President Bush and then had to rehabilitate himself. Rove did this in spades, and the place where he worked his political magic was in Alabama. He put together a campaign to engineer the Alabama GOP’s capture of the state’s judicial machinery. It worked brilliantly. And Rove has retained tight connections with the Alabama GOP ever since. Rove and the Alabama GOP leaders set out to destroy Siegelman’s political career and thus smooth the path by which the Republican Party could secure and retain political control of the Alabama statehouse. It was crafted in such a way as to retard the ability of Democrats to raise money from campaign donors so that they might contest office in Alabama. Each of these purposes is “corrupt.” Key to this plan was the use of the machinery of the Department of Justice for its completion – involving the U.S. attorneys offices in Birmingham and Montgomery, and the Department of Justice in Washington. Rove was in a position to make this work and he did so.

The curtain was pulled back on this plan when Dana Jill Simpson, a Republican lawyer who previously worked on a campaign against Siegelman, decided to blow the whistle. Her affidavit described William Canary, a legendary figure in the Alabama GOP, bragging that “his girls” would take care of Siegelman. Canary’s wife is Leura Canary, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. Alice Martin, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama is a close confidante of Canary’s. He referred repeatedly to “Karl,” assuring that “Karl” had worked things out with the Justice Department in Washington to assure a criminal investigation and prosecution of Siegelman. Canary is a close friend of Karl Rove, and I have documented their long relationship in another post.

The response to Simpson’s affidavit has been a series of brusque dismissive statements – all of them unsworn – from others who figured in the discussion and the federal prosecutor in the Siegelman case, who has now made a series of demonstrably false statements concerning the matter. She’s been smeared as “crazy” and as a “disgruntled contract bidder.” And something nastier: after her intention to speak became known, Simpson’s house was burned to the ground, and her car was driven off the road and totaled. Clearly, there are some very powerful people in Alabama who feel threatened. Her case starts to sound like a chapter out of John Grisham’s book The Pelican Brief. However, those who have dismissed Simpson are in for a very rude surprise. Her affidavit stands up on every point, and there is substantial evidence which will corroborate its details.

This disclosure was treated as explosive news by Time Magazine and the New York Times. However, newspapers inside of Alabama reacted with awkward silence, as if these disclosures were very unpleasant news, best swept immediately under the living room carpet. I will single out the Birmingham News and the Mobile Register. I took some time earlier this week to review their coverage of the Siegelman story from the beginning. It left me wondering whether these publications were really newspapers.

True, they have the look and feel of a newspaper. But their coverage has something oily and sulfurous about it. I previously analyzed a single story from the Birmingham News just to show how it was misleading its readership on every significant aspect of the case. The most critical facts were consistently elided from the discussion, and fake facts were touted up front. Even the headline was such a farce that the News was subsequently obliged to run a correction admitting that it was false."

This case has a terrible odor about it.

Robert (Conservative Commentary) said...

I don't even read Alabama papers about this case. As far as the Birmingham News, it is pathetic. It is the poorest excuse for a newspaper that I have seen. There is absolutely no investigative reporting, and the only time they are energized by a story is when it benefits the minotrity population in Birmingham, or can show some mismanagement on the part of the Birmingham mayor or city council.

If you want anything resembling facts and investigation, please look elsewhere. The only reason that it appears in my driveway is for the coupons, comics, and a couple of sections like the Shelby County (where I live) news and sports coverage after foot ball games. I never read the rest of it.

Regarding the meat of your post, I will only say that I am not sure where you got the info but some of it is somewhat wrong. The GOP wins the Governor's Office in Alabama, but the legislature is 80% democrat. A couple of years ago there was only six republicans in the entire senate. The republican party in this state at the state level doesn't have enough power to decide what time to break for lunch. The impression that Karl Rove has interceded to prevent dems from winning office is complete nonsense. Despite us being a red state, all of the power rests with the democrat party.

Wadical said...

What? No Unicorns?

Man, I can smell the fresh air from here. Nice town.

Anonymous said...

FCC Launches Probe of Alabama TV Station Accused of Censoring a 60 Minutes Expose on the GOP’s Prosecution of Alabama’s Imprisoned Former Gov. Don Siegelman

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