Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:
Anniston (Alabama) Star on state deserving better for governor:
In early 2012, Gov. Robert Bentley, who had been on the job for 12 months, assured the audience at the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce's annual lunch that he wished to become a "visionary" leader for the state. It's a goal that still eludes Bentley.
The past four years have been painful for Alabamians. The jobs picture is weak. The state has funded its bills with borrowed money despite making massive cuts to essential programs. A prison overcrowding crisis threatens to blow a hole in the state budget.
Workable solutions from Montgomery are few and far between. I
Bentley has earned his reputation as "Gov. Shrug," a politician who is seemingly unmoved by the plight of his state to do anything about it except look for more ways to weaken the government and starve it of necessary funds.
Bentley's opponent is Parker Griffith, a Huntsville resident. Like Bentley, Griffith is a physician. Unlike Bentley, Griffith is a political party-switcher. He was elected to Congress as a Democrat in 2008 after serving half of a four-year term in the state Senate. Ahead of the 2010 election, Griffith switched political parties but lost in the Republican primary to Mo Brooks, the candidate who now represents Alabama in the 5th congressional district of the U.S. House. In 2012, Griffith's Republican primary challenge of Brooks failed.
Give Bentley credit for one thing. He recognizes that Alabama's governor should be a visionary. He or she should lead this state to make the improvements it needs to deliver prosperity. A visionary governor in Montgomery should break through the fog of inaction and set this state on a better course. Sadly, neither candidate gives us hope to be that sort of visionary. The Star makes no recommendation in the race for governor, except to say that Alabama deserves better.
Tuscaloosa (Alabama) News on quarantine for Ebola patients:
The logic is hard to follow. Health care workers would go to a developing nation, live in relatively primitive conditions and possibly expose themselves to one of the world's deadliest diseases for which there is no cure. But they would be deterred from taking on the task by a three-week quarantine in a safe, clean U.S. facility?
Quarantine runs contrary to the principles this country is founded on. Without committing a crime, nay, for undertaking an act of compassion and mercy, people are detained against their will. So it's no wonder that people don't like the idea very much. But the argument against it is counterintuitive.
The Ebola virus has gotten into the United States.
Perhaps the fear has been exaggerated. It's been pointed out that while Americans are obsessing about Ebola, they are still dropping dead by the thousands daily from cancer, heart disease and other ailments that are much more likely to afflict them.
Complete isolationism is not the answer. With its resources and technology, the United States is needed in the fight against the Ebola epidemic in Africa, and Americans will be safer when the epidemic is halted at its source.
We just have difficulty understanding why combating the disease in Africa and protecting Americans from infection are mutually exclusive. Certainly everything possible should be done to make quarantine safe and as pleasant as possible. But it seems like a reasonable precaution in the face of a deadly disease.
The Gadsden (Alabama) Times on addressing veterans' problems:
The concept of a commission to help the state's veterans and service members is a good one, and its goals are admirable. We hope it can avoid the politics that often beset such efforts.
The main goals of the program are to help veterans find jobs and homes, to give them better access to health care and to help with any legal problems they might be encountering.
The Alabama Veterans Executive Network Commission, or Ala VetNet, as the program is known, was created in December — before problems at the U.S. Veterans Administration began dominating the headlines — and the plan was submitted to Gov. Robert Bentley in June. The plan was revealed last week, timing that skeptics might find convenient given that it was less than two weeks before an election.
The commission brought together representatives from multiple state agencies and organizations. Alabama Mental Health Commissioner Jim Reddoch and Veterans Affairs Commissioner Clyde Marsh led the commission, and Major Gen. Larry Ross, retired from the Georgia National Guard, will coordinate implementation of the plan. He promised the initiative will not be a "flash in the pan."
Key points in the commission plan include:
. Identifying health care resources and getting that information to veterans and their families through social media and a new website, set to launch next year.
. Promoting job training for underemployed veterans and developing ways to help businesses that hire veterans.
. Seeking legislation to allow in-state tuition for all veterans at the state's two-year, four-year and technical colleges.
. Promote establishment of a statewide Veterans Treatment Court. Those programs, which offer veterans alternatives to criminal prosecution for nonviolent offenses, have had some success locally and we see no reason why they wouldn't work across the state. The commission also proposed recruiting lawyers to offer free legal assistance for veterans and service members.
Commissions come and go, especially ones created by executive order. We hope this one endures as long as it's needed and isn't subject to political whims, no matter who holds the state's highest office.
As Reddoch said, veterans "... have paid the price. They are entitled to whatever we can do to meet their needs."