Fact or Fiction: (“Greg took money from Ron Gilley”)

Gerald Dial is falsely claiming through the mail, newspapers, and televisions that I received money from Ron Gilley

As was reported in the Decatur Times, these monies from Gilley did not come to me or my campaign; rather they were directed to now-indicted Republican Senator Harri Anne Smith.

According to the indictment unsealed Monday, four $50,000 checks were mailed from Houston County — the site of Gilley’s casino — to four different Huntsville PACs on March 24 . . .The ultimate destination of the checks, according to the indictment, was state Sen. Harri Anne Smith, a former Republican three-term senator running as an Independent in a re-election contest. She also was indicted Monday.

People have often asked me if I have been surprised by the negativity of the campaign and I respond that I have not. What has surprised me is the audacity of Gerald Dial; he will truly say anything.

For instance, as part of these lies,  Gerald Dial calls me a “special interest pawn from gambling bosses.” However, Gerald Dial was the leader of the “gambling industry’s other puppet legislators within the State Senate. In fact, he was so committed to the casino bosses that, in May 2001 , the Birmingham News editorial described Dial as “the toadie of the dog track owners who barks out whatever he’s told to do.”

His record solidly supports these descriptions.

  • In 1999, Dial wrote a bill that would have added a $52 tax on every taxpayer as part of a mandatory state raffle which would have forced every Alabamian to participate in a gambling scheme.
  • In 1999-2000, he failed to oppose a single pro-gambling bill (out of twelve) that created lotteries and practical monopolies for the casino bosses;
  • In 2000, Dial helped gambling interests by supporting HB 867 to cut the tax on wagers at Alabama’s dog tracks from 1.0% to 0.5%. During late-night Senate-floor debate, Dial said he was concerned that the dog tracks were being “taxed to death.”
  • In 2001, Dial actually sponsored SB 461 which allowed Alabama dog tracks to have an actual monopoly of video poker machines.
  • In 2004, he sponsored even legislation called “Bingo Bucks for the Bosses Bill” which was described by conservative State Senators as “dishonest, discriminatory and diabolical.”  Bob Riley’s State Finance Director Drayton Nabors stated that the bill would have been a “windfall” for dog track owners.
  • Even as far back as 1996, Dial was advocating for gambling’s special interests by sponsoring other of their legislation. At the time, Dial bragged that the “only opposition he has had so far is from ‘some Baptist preachers and anti-gambling people.’”
  • And he approved more 1999 as well.
  • Unbelievably, this is not all of his attempts to “expand gambling in Alabama.”

Ask Gerald Dial:

  • how much money he has taken from indicted casino-boss Milton McGregor, indicted lobbyist Tom Coker and his PACs, indicted lobbyist Bob Geddie and his PACS over the years. (Hint: Six Figures)
  • why did he resign as co-Chairman of TIF PAC on Friday, October 1 (Hint: His fellow co-Chair, Jim Preuit, was indicted on Monday, October 4)

 

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A Encouraging Editorial Yesterday

This letter to the editor appeared in yesterdays Valley-Times News.

Candidate who can create jobs in Alabama

To the Editor:
Good news! We have a candidate for Alabama Senate District 13 who has very specific and practical job creation proposals. After meeting and hearing Greg Varner, I know that he will help the currently non-working people of Alabama once again have jobs. And, through building a “world class” educational system, he will help create an economy and environment in Alabama where our children and their children will want to live. Despite the letter to the editor in last week’s paper declaring “officials can’t create any jobs,” the truth is that state government policies and regulations can indeed make a difference.

Greg Varner is the new voice in this state so desperately in need of new
leadership Varner especially focuses on ways to strengthen our local economies, keeping money working for us rather than flowing out of the community and the state.

One of his key proposals is to require public schools, prisons and public hospitals to buy a percentage of their food from local farms. This would greatly
expand the market for local farmers and provide incentive for more people to
take up (or return to) farming. Thus we would see greater farm-related employment and expanding sales of locally-produced goods at farmers’ markets, retail stores and even restaurants. How big a difference could that
make?

Varner, who studied economics as a student at Georgia Tech, points out “If someone spends $100 at a local independent business, about $68 stays
in the area. If spending at a chain store, only $43 of that $100 stays in the local
economy.” He cites a Georgia study showing that every five-percent increase in local produce purchased would create 345 additional jobs. Creating a stronger
local food system also has strong health (recall the recent egg recalls) and food
security benefits. Just as we don’t want to be dependent on foreign oil, we
don’t want to depend on our food coming from afar.

Stressing the need to support not only small farmers but small businesses
generally, Varner says, “Let’s not limit this principle to agriculture, the same
applies to other sectors of our economy. We must close these leaks from our local economies. These leaks are as dangerous to our communities as a parasite is to our bodies; it saps our communities of [their] vigor and vitality. Whether we’re talking office supplies, clothing, in fact, most of what we consume, a local business policy makes sense.”

Accordingly, while acknowledging the value of attracting industry, Varner
would add emphasis to support for local small businesses in all state government
activities. I could go on and on about the wise and practical ways Greg Varner proposes to help our state — and state of affairs. And about his outstanding qualifications, testimony to his integrity and energy, his wonderful family, etc.

Please see for yourself at govarner.com.
Judy Collins, Fredonia

Candidate Greg Varner Responds to Gambling Arrests, Ties Dial To Special Interests

For Immediate Release
October 8, 2010

Ashland, Al – Greg Varner said this week’s arrests of elected officials were a perfect example of why career politicians, including his opponent Gerald Dial, need to be reminded by voters that state senators work for the people and not the special interests.

“This is the reason why I’m running,” Varner said.  “People who spend most of their lives in Montgomery become part of the problem.  They forget why voters sent them there and they become deaf to the voters’ concerns.”  Varner said Gerald Dial is a part of that system and has been for the past 36 years.

“In the three decades Dial was in Montgomery, Dial sponsored a bill making it mandatory that everyone participate in a state lottery and contribute $1 per week, regardless of their moral convictions.  He tried to pass another gambling bill that was called a ‘windfall for the dog track owners’, and that owner was indicted Monday. He’s part of the system and his votes show it.”

Varner said Dial didn’t deliver on jobs and taxes either. “Dial not only supported virtually every gambling bill.  He also sponsored a tax increase that would have been the largest in our state’s history and would have put a severe burden on Alabama families and small businesses.  When Dial was put in charge of creating rural jobs, Alabama lost more than 66,000 rural jobs and unemployment in this district went up 274%.”

“Voters want someone who will get the job done. They want someone who will create jobs, give the same tax breaks to small businesses that they give to the big corporations, and support our public schools, and that’s what I’ll fight for when I’m in Montgomery.”

We could use an additional $430,000 in District 13.

Harman Family Farm of Lee County

The revitalization of family farming does not poll highly; it does not generate much political “heat.” However, I will continue to preach the importance of family farming to our future for no other reason than it creates jobs.  But as I originally stated here:

If we lose our ability to feed ourselves, we will not only become held hostage by global food prices, but we also become entangled in foreign government interests and agendas. Our national sovereignty and security would be sacrificed.

In addition, we have seen recently the fragility of our food supply expressed on headlines from the egg recalls.

I believe revitalizing family farming is a critical element of a complex answer to not only the agricultural crisis facing this country  but also a host of other headline-grabbing crises.

In addition to others,  I advocated one  specific policy modification from the beginning to restore family farming:

Each school, prison, and public hospital should purchase a percentage of its food from local farms and ranches. We could rapidly revitalize local, family farming if a percentage of every school lunch was grown within its county’s borders. Consider the impact on small farming operations if each prison purchased all its food from nearby.

A recent study from the University of Minnesota corroborates this policy direction (ht to my mom).  According to the study:

Filling school lunch trays with fresh, locally grown foods that are easy to incorporate into school menus can contribute as much as $430,000 annually to a regional economy, according to new research from University of Minnesota Extension.

The study focused on five rural counties with only 20,840 students and examined the potential economic impact of farm-to-school programs. According to the author, “a $400,000 annual impact could support two to three full-time farms.”

$400,000 could go a long way in east, central Alabama too. Combine this $400,000 with the monetary velocity of money spent locally, the impact multiplies to $1.6 million.  Remember: for every $100 dollars spent locally,  about $68 stays in the area while only $43 of that $100 stays in the local economy if spent on a large multi-state distributor.

Let’s dedicate ourselves and our energies to this important policy area.  After all, our agricultural and food production policy impacts so many “sexy” areas: energy independence, economic resilience, terrorism, health care, national security, education, food-safety and international trade.

Greg’s Press Response to False Attack

Hearing Loss In Montgomery at Epidemic Level

For Immediate Release: September 23, 2010  

 

Media Contact 

 

Media Contact

Media Contact

Kelly Varner: 256-354-5464 (varnergreg@yahoo.com)

Ashland, Al –– Gerald Dial’s campaign, along with the AL GOP, has raised eyebrows recently for incorrectly attacking candidate Greg Varner’s financial disclosure forms, leading some to question whether Dial’s attacks are a symptom of his 36 years in Montgomery politics.

Greg Varner responded to the release, saying, “This is untrue.  We have followed the campaign disclosure laws.  In fact, Dial’s political disclaimers and disclosure forms list in-kind contributors in the same way.”  Varner said the unfounded attack was typical of career politicians.

“Incumbent Mike Hubbard and 36-year career politician Gerald Dial are suffering from the same symptoms that other incumbents and career politicians are suffering from, and that is a severe loss of hearing.  They can’t hear the voters of Senate District 13,” Varner said. 

“I would expect nothing less from Gerald Dial. Rather than provide any new ideas or solutions for struggling families—like job creation, tax cuts for small businesses, treating small businesses the same way we treat the large corporations, improving public education, and improving the infrastructure in District 13—Gerald Dial wants to talk about filling out government forms.  And even then, he can’t get his facts straight.”

“Gerald Dial certainly does not want to talk about the 66,501 rural jobs lost in Alabama, which led the nation, while he was paid over $376,000 in his political job to create rural jobs.”

“This election is about jobs and it’s about people,” Varner added.  “It’s not about incumbents or career politicians, and when I go to Montgomery I’ll fight to help improve the lives of my neighbors in District 13 by bringing a new voice with new ideas.”

66,501 rural jobs lost evidences a failure

66,501.

We need to remember that number. 66,501 is the number of rural jobs lost in Alabama between July 2007 and July 2010. Stated another way, there are 66,501 less jobs present in rural Alabama than there were in July 2007.

As reported on Daily Yonder, losing that many rural jobs vaults Alabama as a leader in rural job loss, losing 11.65% of rural jobs. (In fact, each rural county in District 13 experienced “major job loss” except Cleburne County which experienced “significant job loss.”)  We’re #2 in rural job loss. Michigan led the nation with 11.72%. So thank goodness for Michigan, right!  Don’t cheer yet;  note we were only .07% behind first place, a virtual tie for first. (And Michigan was the epicenter of the collapse of the auto industry.)

How is this news not headlines on every newspaper or the lead story on each nightly news prgram? Where are the inquiries? Why no examination of our policies?  Why are “heads not rolling?”

Let’s consider Alabama or Auburn football: your choice. If the head coach of either team finished dead last or led the nation in games lost, points allowed or turnovers, the coach would be quickly dispatched, not praised as the greatest coach of all time.

To lead the nation in rural job loss evidences a failure: a failure of responsive policy, a failure of vision,  a failure of innovative ideas, a failure of competency to understand the needs of a twenty-first century economy.

The dates within this article are significant. They largely correspond with my opponent’s tenure  as director of the Rural Action Commission. In February 2007, he was specifically tasked (and paid around $125,000 per year including perks) to create rural jobs, “to spur development in rural Alabama.”

However, under his watch, Alabama led the nation in rural job loss.  66,501 jobs lost, but $376,000 paid to Gerald Dial.

Let’s fight for our public libraries

Roanoke Public Library

As a boy, I walked to our local public library at least once a week to check out the latest Boy’s Life or BMX Plus magazine or to “research” my next archeological dig. (Indiana Jones was a childhood hero.) It provided me an opportunity to really “self-pace” my education.  My local public library filled a critical element of my education and upbringing.

During the campaign, I have visited with many public librarians and libraries. Each librarian has expressed concern to me of continuing budget cuts for them.  And rightly so. I have expressed to them my support and their priority to me.

As reported in an article in the Iowa Independent, our public libraries face a “perfect storm.”

Recession has driven Americans to their local libraries in record numbers, and throughout the nation more citizens believe their library improves the community’s quality of life. Yet, even while patron numbers soar and more people seek the free resources offered by local libraries, funding continues to lag.

From a survey by Harris, “Sixty-eight percent of the employed adults surveyed reported using their library in 2009, as did 62 percent of the unemployed adults and 53 percent of the retired adults. Eighty percent of people 18-24 years old, 73 percent of those 35-44, and 70 percent of those 25-34 years old used their library in the past year.”

So while more people employ the public library than ever, the budgets for those libraries continue to receive less and less priority in state budgets.

Bradshaw Library in Valley

As many of our friends and family seek new employment opportunities, our public libraries also provide a critical element for adult new skill development. The American Library Association reports:

As the recession that took hold in December 2007 drags on into 2010, Americans are turning to their libraries in ever larger numbers for access to resources for employment, continuing education, and government services. The local library, a traditional source of free access to books, magazines, CDs, and DVDs, has become a lifeline, offering technology training and workshops on topics that ranged from résumé-writing to job-interview skills.

The data supports these claims as well.

Two-thirds of public libraries help patrons complete online job applications; provide access to job databases and other online resources (88 percent) and civil service exam materials (75 percent); and offer software or other resources (69 percent) to help patrons create resumes and other employment materials.

Considering Alabama ranks 49th in internet connectivity, our public libraries provide the only access to the internet for many rural children and families.

the Internet thrives at public libraries, which have seen double-digit growth since 2007 in the on-line services they make available to their patrons. More than 71 percent of public libraries provide their community’s only free public access to computers and the Internet, according to an article in the November 2009 issue of American Libraries. The number of libraries offering homework resources in 2009 was almost 80 percent, while 73 percent offered audio content, 62 percent virtual reference, 55 percent e-books, and 51 percent video content.

Ashland Public Library

Novelist Karin Slaughter penned this wonderfully stated appeal for public libraries in the Atlanta-Journal. She wrote:

This is a quantifiable fact: There is a direct correlation between the rate of literacy in a nation and its success.

This is why the funding of American libraries should be a matter of national security. Keeping libraries open, giving access to all children to all books is vital to our nation’s sovereignty. For nearly 85 percent of kids living in rural areas, the only place where they have access to technology or books outside the schoolroom is in a public library. For many urban kids, the only safe haven they have to study or do homework is the public library. Librarians are soldiers in the battle for our place in the world, and in many cases they are getting the least amount of support our communities can offer.

We need to shift our national view of libraries not as luxuries, but as necessities. When tragedy strikes in other nations, Americans are generous, but our libraries are being hit with a tsunami and there has been no call to action. Staffs are being fired. Hours are being cut. Doors are being closed. Buildings are being razed. Kids are being left behind. Futures are being destroyed.

Libraries are the backbone of our educational infrastructure, and they are being slowly broken by bankrupt municipalities and apathetic politicians. As voters and taxpayers, we have to demand that our local governments properly prioritize libraries. As charitable citizens, we must invest in our library down the street so that the generations serviced by that library grow up to be adults who contribute to not just their local communities, but to the world.

How true!

With the downfall of the public library, our local communities fall as well. As penned by T.S.Eliot:

When the Stranger says: “What is the meaning of this city ?
Do you huddle close together because you love each other?”
What will you answer? “We all dwell together
To make money from each other”? or “This is a community”?

For me, the public library provides one of the last vestiges of community gathering and congregation. In an age wherein we huddle in our houses, the public library provides an opportunity for unplanned, unhurried interaction and conversation with our neighbors.  The library extends community to us.

As the author wrote: Let’s fight for our public libraries; let’s fight for our communities.