Friday, October 30, 2009

Compassionate Care Meeting Nov. 7th

On November 7th, 2009 Alabamians for Compassionate Care will hold a meeting in Birmingham to prepare for the upcoming legislative session in 2010. The Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act will again be sponsored by Rep. Patricia Todd of Birmingham. Rep. Todd will also be in attendance our meeting to tell everyone what to expect and what things they should be doing to help get this bill passed.

This meeting will take place from 2 - 4 p.m. at the Libertarian Party Headquarters located at 2330 Highland Ave. South (on Southside...not in Irondale). Refreshments will be served. So, load up your car with people who are interested and meet us there!!

If you plan to be there please RSVP to this post or to so that we can properly prepare and have enough refreshments for everyone.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rep. Lea Fite has died

Mobile Press Register

Rep. Lea Fite (D - Jacksonville) has died very unexpectedly from an apparent seizure. He was 59. My thoughts go out to his family during this very sad time.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Community College Tuition Increases by 27%

The State School Board voted yesterday to increase community college tuition by 27%!!!

By Stan Diel -- The Birmingham News
October 22, 2009, 9:59AM

MONTGOMERY - The Alabama Board of Education has voted to increase tuition at the state's community colleges 27 percent to help make up for revenue lost to state budget cuts.

For the typical student the change will mean a 15 percent increase -- about $420 -- in the total cost of one year of community college, bringing the year's total bill to $3,120.

I am a community college student and this makes me very unhappy. This is outrageous! I attend Central Alabama Community College in Alex City and the place is falling in. The library building is in such bad shape I am sometimes scared to be in it. The columns out front are cracked and large chunks are falling off. The third floor has huge cracks in the floor from one side of the bldg to the other. When it rains the librarians have to set out buckets to catch the water. The elevator safety certification is out of date by over a year and the elevator is more like a coffin with sliding doors that will often miss matching up to the floor by one or two feet.

The computers and printers often don't work, the temperature fluctuates madly, the bookstore rips off students and the president Dr. Stephen Franks, who was also Mike Huckabee's campaign manager, is non-existent on campus. In fact, most students think the president is female because all they have ever seen outside the President's hidden office is his secretary. The President has never walked the halls and engaged with students. I couldn't pick him out of a line up.

The only nice building on campus is named after AEA water carrier Rep. Betty Carol Graham, who resigned as Dean of Students when the double dipping investigation got hot. She was responsible for a lot of contracts that should have been bid out that were not bid out. Personally, I don't think buildings or anything else should be named after people until they are dead. I'd guess 10% or less of the student body at CACC uses the Betty Carol Graham Technology Center building on a regular basis.

And now we have to pay more for these shit services?

I'd like to ask Bradley Byrne, who was the two year college chancellor and is currently running for Governor, why my school is falling in under his watch. I'd also like to ask Rep. Betty Carol Graham why the only building fit for habitation on campus is the one with her name on it and why exactly the decision was made to build that building (and put her name on it) when the rest of the campus is in such unbelievable disrepair.

This increase comes at a time when the fastest growing segment of the student population is non-traditional students who have been in the workforce for years and have lost their jobs due to the economy. These students have families to support and many of them are supporting their families on the paltry sums they receive in unemployment compensation. We can hardly afford to pay more for the incredibly sub-standard services we are already receiving.

Somebody's got some splainin' to do...and what do you know...election season is almost upon us.

This is NOT a Sex Offender

According to a 22-year-old Air Force Officer from Alabama, who is currently stationed in California, has been arrested and charged as a sex offender for having sex with someone when he was a teenager and his partner was between 12 and 16. Troy King, who is up for reelection, is really pushing the case.

NEWSFLASH: TEENAGERS HAVE SEX!!! They've been having sex since time out of mind. It is natural human behavior.

From :

MONTGOMERY - Attorney General Troy King announced today that an Alabama man stationed at a An Alabama man stationed at a California Air Force Base has been arrested for multiple sex crimes charged in a Morgan County, Alabama, indictment.

Lt. Zachary W. Mullins was arrested yesterday at Vendenberg Air Force Base and is being held at the Santa Barbara Detention Facility in California.

Mullins, 22, is from Hartselle, Alabama. The alleged crimes occurred before Mullins joined the United States Air Force.

Attorney General King’s Family Protection Unit presented evidence to a Morgan County grand jury, resulting in a three-count indictment* of Mullins in July of 2009. Specifically the indictment charges that Mullins:
-being older than 16, engaged in deviate sexual intercourse with a child between 12 and 16, which is second-degree sodomy, a class B felony;
-being older than 16 (and more than two years older than his victim), engaged in sexual intercourse with a child aged between 12 and 16, which is second-degree rape, a class B felony;
-being 19 years or older, subjected a child aged between 12 and 16 to sexual contact, which is second-degree sexual abuse, a class A misdemeanor.

The sex offender laws in Alabama are ridiculous! Teenagers having sex SHOULD NOT be labeled sex offenders. The title of sex offender should be reserved for those who commit rape or molest children. Not for kids who are simply doing what kids do. Sex offender laws are also NOT for homeless men urinating in alley ways in Birmingham or little old MeMaw's with bad bladders peeing in the bushes in Mobile.

This has to stop! How many more lives will Troy King (who is rumored to engage in some interesting sexual practices himself) be allowed to ruin because he is absolutely fixated on anything 'below-the-belt'?

I can't wait to see Troy King go down in flames in the 2010 Republican primary. I only hope that whoever our next AG is will clearly understand what and who the sex offender laws are aimed at. Here's a clue: They are NOT for teenagers, homeless people who need to pee or Memaw's with bad bladders.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

GO VOTE in WSFA's Medical Marijuana Poll

In response to yesterday's news that the Obama Administration had finally issued written rules barring the federal government from harassing medical marijuana patients, caregivers and dispensaries in the 14 states where medical marijuana is legal WSFA Channel 12 in Montgomery has put up a poll asking if Alabama should legalize medical marijuana.

GO HERE AND VOTE. We are currently winning with 74% of the vote. The results will be announced on Channel 12 at some point today.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Another outrageous bond in Clay County

Clay Times Journal

A young man was arrested last week in Lineville, Al, which is located in Clay County. According to the newspaper...

The officers found a small amount of what they believed to be marijuana packaged in separate bags, apparently so it could be sold.

Mr. Torey Lasean Sterling was charged with two counts of distribution of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana 1st, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
He was transported to Clay County jail where he is currently being held under a total bond of $121,000.00.

$121,000 for a little bit of weed? Compare that ungodly high bond to what John Alexander Rochester received for trafficking 32 grams of crack and powder cocaine, a gallon bag of marijuana, 5 sandwich baggies of marijuana, 26 xanax pills, 8 klonopin pills and 1100 extacy pills.

John Alexander Rochester's Bonds

Charge - Trafficking of Methyl Amphetamine - Bond $20,000, Class C Felony

Charge - possession of drug paraphernalia - Bond $5,000, Class A Misdemeanor

Charge - distribution of a controlled substance - Bond $15,000, Class B Felony
(the other two people charged with this crime had bonds of $30,000 and $100,000)

Charge - possession of a controlled substance - Bond $15,000, Class C Felony
This fine is only half or less of what other defendants charged with the same offense had to pay. Why were others charged double or more?

Charge - 1st degree possession of marijuana - Bond $10,000, Class C Felony

Charge - trafficking cocaine - Bond $20,000. Class A Felony

Clay County Alabama needs to be investigated by the federal government! I'll pull the case file on the Sterling kid and see if Judge George C. Simpson or Judge John E. Rochester set the bond that high. I'll also try and make contact with the family so that they are aware of how badly they are being screwed by the Clay County judicial system. Maybe they can use the "Rochester defense" to get this kid the same treatment that Alex Rochester got.

Yay! I got to talk to Marc!

As I was sitting in a school newspaper meeting yesterday ( I write for the college paper) my cell phone rang. The call was from an unknown number. I usually don't answer those calls. However, I had talked to Jodie, Marc's wife, the evening before and she said Marc had been trying to call me all day the day before. She said if he called again the number would be unknown. I thought it might be Marc and sure enough it was.

Marc said I was the first person aside from Jodie that he had talked to since being taken into custody. He is doing well....considering the circumstances. He is a vegetarian so the diet at the prison leaves a great deal to be desired.

We talked about what his days are like and he wanted to know what I had been doing, how the kids are doing, how college is going, how my activism is going. We talked for about 15 minutes and as I was in the middle of telling him the latest news on the Rochester case he had to go. He has a letter on the way that I mailed over a week ago detailing the Rochester case. I know he will be happy to read about that.

It was really great to talk to him and I just thought all of my readers would like to know that he sounds very good and is adjusting as best he can. Some of you have asked about sending him money. Jodie says the best way is to send it to her and let her take it to him if you are sending money from the US. That will negate the need for a specific type of money order or the guards pocketing the cash that might be sent. I will post an address for sending Jodie money later today.

If you would like to write Marc please send your letters to:

Marc Emery
CS #06032080
1451 Kingsway Avenue
Port Coquitlam, BC
V3C 1S2

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

President Reagan's Sec. of State Against the Drug War

Wall Street Journal
George Shultz on the Drug War
The former secretary of state has long doubted the wisdom of interdiction.


When George P. Shultz took office as Ronald Reagan's secretary of state in 1982, his first trip out of the country was to Canada. His second was to Mexico.

"Foreign policy starts with your neighborhood," he told me in an interview here in the Canadian capital last week. "I have always believed that and Ronald Reagan believed that very firmly. In many ways he had [the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement] in his mind. He paid a lot of attention to both Mexico and Canada, as I did."

Mr. Shultz, now a co-chair of the North American Forum—which pulls together members of the business and government community for an annual pow-wow—is still paying a lot of attention to the American neighborhood.

These days that means taking seriously the problem of drug-trafficking violence on the Mexican border. "It's gotten to the point that . . . you've got to be worried about what's happening to Mexico, and you've got to realize that the money that's financing all that comes from the United States in terms of the profits from the illegal drugs. It's not healthy for us, let alone Mexico, to have this violence taking place."

Mr. Shultz carries weight on this issue, in part because he has been thinking about it critically for decades and listening to our neighbors' viewpoints. He has long harbored skepticism about interdiction as a solution to drug abuse in the U.S. Those doubts were prescient.

Read the rest

Write to O'

This is a great piece from a very respectable and influential person. Mr. Shultz was President Ronald "Just Say No To Drugs" Reagan's Secretary of State. I like how Mr. Shultz points out that the political space to discuss this issue just doesn't exist in most cases.

It's up to us to carve out that space and claim it as our own. The drug war cannot go on forever, even though that is exactly what it was intended to do. We can stop it if we stop being afraid of what our neighbors, church members and co-workers think of our opinion that the drug war is wrong and completely counter-productive to our aims of reducing violence, demand, and addiction.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Today's Events

I will be helping run a Compassionate Care booth today at Birmingham's Folk Festival at Avondale Park beginning at 10 a.m.

At 8 p.m. tonight I will be a guest on In the Interest of the People with host Larry Barton. You can tune in at the link. You can call in at 256-362-6209. I will be discussing the Alex Rochester case.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Marc Emery's Prison Podcast

Marc Emery's first report from prison can be heard HERE! Please take a few moments to listen. Then write Marc a letter and send him some money.

I wrote him earlier this week and detailed the latest events in the John Alexander (Alex) Rochester case which ought to make Marc very proud and happy. When you write Marc try to make all of your words positive. Send him drug policy and activism news that happen in your town or state or that you are directly involved in.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Clarification on the Alex Rochester case

I've had a couple of emails and one comment asking me why I am advocating for Alex Rochester to go to prison for drug trafficking.

I am not advocating for anyone to go to prison.

I've said all along that I don't think anyone should be in jail/prison for any non-violent drug offense. I've said it in blog posts, radio interviews and in that news article in the Anniston Star although it didn't make it into the final printed version.

What I want to make the judge answer to is why prison is perfectly all right for the children of the 'peasants' but not for the children of 'royalty'. I want the judge to be made to answer why his son wasn't charged with interstate drug trafficking when anyone else would have been. Why his son wasn't subjected to the mandatory minimums like anyone else would have been. Why asset forfeiture wasn't used against his son when anyone else would have lost everything that they own. I want the DA and the judge who presided over this case to tell us how many other people charged with similar crimes, who weren't related to a judge, received such a sweetheart deal. I think the public has a right to know the answers to those questions. We pay these mother fuckers $150,000 a year to sit in judgment of us and we are no doubt getting the short end of that stick. It's time to stop that.

I don't think prison is the place for any non-violent drug offender but I do feel that if everyone else can't be released and placed on probation and sent to a posh treatment center like Alex Rochester then Alex Rochester should join them in an inhumane, dangerous, violent, overcrowded Alabama prison.

My job here is to afflict the comfortable. The only real way to afflict them and make them feel the pain of the thousands of families they have helped to further destroy is by asking those questions. And making them answer them.

In essence I am not trying to punish the boy....I am trying to punish the fucked up Alabama judicial system by exposing them for what they are. Unfair, racist, holier-than-thou-and-my-shit-smells-better-than-yours-too bastards. I want to make them realize in a very public way how prison isn't the place for anyone for a non-violent drug offense. Call me vindictive...but I think they need a taste of their own medicine. Its the only way they learn.

Ain't karma a bitch?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Drug Sentence of Clay County Judges Son Called Into Question

Anniston Star

An Alabama drug legalization advocate is calling into question the 2008 drug possession sentence of a man who happens to be the son of a Clay County judge.

John Alexander Rochester, 23, of Ashland, was arrested March 1, 2008, in Ashland City Park. Rochester, who was 21 at the time, and a 19-year-old man were taken into custody, police said, after they were found to be in possession of large amounts of powdered and crack cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy pills and other drug paraphernalia.

The police report said Rochester claimed ownership of the drugs at the time of his arrest, telling the arresting officer the prices he charged for various quantities of each drug.

Rochester, the son of Clay County Circuit Judge John E. Rochester, was released on bond after serving two and a half weeks in jail.

Rochester’s case was sent to a grand jury hearing in March 2008. According to court documents, the grand jury returned an indictment charging Rochester with possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Rochester pleaded guilty to all three counts on April 17, 2008. Sentencing was overseen by retired Talladega County Circuit Judge Jerry L. Fielding.

Rochester was given a suspended five-year jail sentence, five years probation, a $5,600 fine and was ordered to complete a drug rehabilitation program in Mississippi.

Loretta Nall, a drug legalization advocate and 2006 Libertarian Party candidate for governor of Alabama, said she thinks Rochester was given a lighter sentence because his father is a judge.

“If you look at other cases in Clay County with drugs, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that the grand jury would come back with this,” she said. “I expect the judicial system to be fair.”

A criminal law expert, however, said the case likely was given to a grand jury and a judge from a neighboring county in an effort to ensure fairness.

“When you have someone prominent like this, you always have a question of whether or not this was given something special,” said Floyd Feeney, law professor at the University of California, Davis. “But once you get to sentencing, because there is a lot of transparency to that, the fact that you have a judge from another county (presiding) provides some assurance that this is being handled in an even-handed manner.”

Feeney said sentencing in drug offenses sometimes varies from case to case because of the intent behind sentencing.

“Sentencing has a number of different goals. One goal is to deter this individual from committing new drug offenses,” Feeney said. “Even though there are a lot of drugs involved here, what you’d like to do is to get this person into a successful, productive life.”

Nall said she was surprised by the sentence because “Judge Rochester has been notorious for harsh sentences.”

“I’ve seen so many people go to prison under him, and suddenly jail is not good enough for his son,” she said.

Reached by phone Friday, the younger Rochester declined to comment. Attempts to reach Judge Rochester were unsuccessful.

Contact Staff writer Whit McGee 256-235-3561

Many thanks to the Anniston Star for covering this story. I have been trying for over a year to get them to cover what the Clay Times Journal would not.

A couple of things that need to be corrected in this article are that the indictment wasn't handed down in this case until March of 2009...not 2008 and the Grand Jury that returned the indictment was a Clay County Grand Jury and not a Talladega Grand jury, according to the case file that I have. And I must say that a Clay County Grand Jury would indict a ham sandwich, so it is shocking that they reduced the charges Alex Rochester was facing before returning the indictment. Anyone else caught with that many drugs in the Ashland City Park, of all places, would have been recommended for the death penalty. I can just hear D.A. Freddy Thompson saying, "He was dealing drugs at the park where our children play. What if he had dropped some Extacy and some kid had picked it up and eaten it and then died?" Anyone but Rochester's kid would have received a very long prison sentence for this crime. Anyone else would have been called a kingpin and the trumpets would be blaring that the law got another drug dealer targeting kids at the park off the street.

I also find it utterly outrageous that this reporter had to go all the way to California to find and 'expert' on the criminal justice system in Alabama. Is there anyone who could possibly know less about how fucked up things are here than a law professor from completely across the country? Were there no law or criminal justice experts at the University of Alabama or Jacksonville State that he could have called? While the law professor is correct that the goal of sentencing is to deter a repeat offense and the hope is that the offender will begin to lead a successful, productive life, most people arrested in Alabama for that amount of drugs, who aren't related to a judge, are never offered the chance at a successful, productive life because they are sent to rot for decades in an Alabama prison. I challenge anyone reading this to find me one case in either Clay County or Talladega County Alabama where the accused was found with 1100 Extacy pills, 32 grams of cocaine, prescription drugs (usually folks caught with prescription drugs are charged for each pill they possess without a prescription) and a gallon bag of marijuana that was given a bond low enough to where they could get out. I'd also like to see a case where someone charged with trafficking was allowed to go to treatment. Traffickers aren't even eligible for drug court in Alabama.

I wish this article had gone into more detail about the amount of drugs Alex Rochester was caught with. Overall it's a start.

Digg this

Friday, October 02, 2009

Four Alabama State Troopers Fired

The Alabama Department of Public Safety has fired four state troopers in connection with an investigation, and the unit to which the four belonged is being investigated.

The four troopers have been placed on mandatory annual leave under State Personnel Department rules. Each has been relieved of duty, and all state equipment assigned to the troopers has been confiscated.

Isn't it funny how when politicians or cops get into trouble they provide themselves an extra layer of secrecy? The whole blurb on basically says they were fired, but they can't tell us who 'they' are. That there is an investigation that they can't tell us about involving something else they can't tell us about. I know it isn't the media's's the information, or lack thereof, that DPS or any governmental agency puts out when they get into trouble. Regular people get their name, photo and graphic details of what they are accused of plastered all over the news.

My prediction is this they were either

1. Stealing
2. Screwing
3. Dealing drugs

Probably all three because when it is just one of the above the internal 'investigation' will find that no crime occurred and the cops return to work.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

A couple more things about the Alex Rochester case

I've been re-reading all the documents I have on the Alex Rochester case and a few more things have occurred to me.

1. Why was this not a federal case? John Alexander Rochester's actions constituted interstate drug trafficking. He bought the drugs in Atlanta, Georgia and transported them across state lines to Alabama. The amounts of some of the drugs alone should have triggered federal charges (1100 Extacy pills). When Rochester was arrested he offered to turn in his supplier to the feds for a considerable reduction in his sentence so even he knew it should have been a federal case. Why was it not?

2. John Alexander Rochester is on probation in Ashland, Alabama and has to report to the probation officer Stacy Vogel at least once a month. This is beyond the pale. Alex Rochester has to report to his probation officer in the same courthouse where his dad is a judge. Seeing as how Judge Rochester has already gone to great length's see that his son receives special treatment and stays out of jail, it isn't too far fetched that Judge Rochester might also know when the drug tests are being conducted and could relay that information to his son. I know for a fact in 2007/2008 the Dept. of Probation and Paroles supervised 55,751 people on probation and 10,445 on parole. They conducted 38,322 urine screens on these 66,000 folks … that is not even one urine a year for everyone. Probationers are only required to report between the first and the fifth of each month. So this actually amounts to young Alex Rochester not really even being on probation other than on paper.

What a sweetheart deal!

Steve and Leah Show Friday Morning 7:20 am

UPDATE: I cannot get the link to listen live to work for me. Someone familiar with the station told me yesterday that the link hasn't worked in some time. If you want to listen in you will have to do so the old fashioned way.

Folks I will be on the Steve and Leah Show on Friday, October 2, 2009 at 7:20 a.m. to talk about the John Alexander Rochester case. You can listen live at the link. Please tune in and call in if you can....especially if you have a story where far fewer drugs were involved and the owner of those drugs went to prison.