Friday, January 25, 2008
On this day:

Few and defined?

At first glance, the following three stories appear to have little in common, aside from the fact that they all made news within the past week. Pay particular attention to the bolded sentences, though, and you may just see a common thread. (If not, there's a big hint at the end.)

B'ham News: "Alabama Gov. Bob Riley likely to appeal judicial ruling on Jefferson County Commission appointment"

MONTGOMERY - Gov. Bob Riley on Wednesday said he likely will appeal a ruling by a panel of three federal judges that said Riley needed approval from the U.S. Justice Department to appoint George Bowman to the Jefferson County Commission, approval he didn't seek.

"Right now, I think we'll probably appeal it," Riley said, adding that he likely would decide for sure "within the next few days," after meeting with lawyers. ...

Riley on Nov. 21 appointed Bowman, a retired two-star general, to replace Larry Langford, who left the Commission's District 1 seat to become mayor of Birmingham. Langford won the mayor's race on Oct. 9 and took office Nov. 13.

Riley appointed Bowman more than three weeks after the Jefferson County Election Commission on Oct. 29 scheduled a special election Feb. 5 to fill the District 1 seat.

Fred Plump of Fairfield filed suit in November, saying Riley lacked the authority to appoint Bowman.

The three-judge panel on Tuesday agreed with Plump, saying Riley's appointment of Bowman was a change of practice from the early 1980s, when vacancies were filled by holding special elections. The panel said that change of practice, to be valid under federal law, must be approved by the Justice Department or a U.S. district court in Washington.

The department, under Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act, reviews changes in voting procedures and practices in Alabama. The department can block a change if it decides it would dilute blacks' voting strength.

AP: "Alabama Governor, Transportation Secretary promote toll roads"

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Gov. Bob Riley joined Transportation Secretary Mary Peters on Friday to promote toll roads as the answer to highway congestionrather.

Riley said Alabama must pursue toll roads because there is not enough money available through the federal gas tax to fund improvements in heavily congested areas of a growing state.

"We can't just keep waiting on the federal government to send us enough money to complete all these projects. It's not going to happen," Riley said at a news conference with Peters. ...

Peters pledged that the U.S. Department of Transportation will expedite the review of any toll road projects submitted by Alabama.

Huntsville Times: "Searcy purchase a 'win-win'"

Some blighted public housing units downtown will soon be removed as part of a plan to improve drainage and, potentially, line the widened Pinhook Creek with walkways and benches. Officials say the move may even make other flood-threatened land downtown more readily developed.

The City Council on Thursday night authorized a $2.3 million purchase of part of the Searcy Homes housing project near the Holmes Avenue/Pollard Street intersection behind the Coca-Cola building. The 3.73-acre tract includes as many as a dozen of the 22 residential housing units in Searcy. ...

Huntsville Housing Authority officials reported the city's interest in the Searcy property last March but needed an appraisal and HUD approval before proceeding with a sale.

City Planning Director Dallas Fanning said the buy is part of a city-led project to remove structures from flood zones to meet strict FEMA standards. Fanning said the structures will either be razed or relocated so the channel improvements can begin, subject to approval by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected.

The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State. The operations of the federal government will be most extensive and important in times of war and danger; those of the State governments, in times of peace and security.

- James Madison, Federalist 45