It has been quite busy around the Nall for Governor Headquarters for the last few weeks. In that time I have spoken in Huntsville and made the front page of The Huntsville Times, which is one of Alabama’s largest daily newspapers.
About a week after the Huntsville engagement I got a call from the Alabama Conference of Black Mayors inviting me to address them in Selma, AL as they prepared to commemorate the 41st Anniversary of Bloody Sunday. I only got about 15 hours notice and had to really hammer away at writing my remarks for the engagement. This was my first opportunity to be presented with the other candidates and a big chance to add credibility and legitimacy to my campaign in the eyes of the voters. Here is the text of my speech here is the video and here are my reflections on the event.
I spent some time in Montgomery last week doing many things. I looked around for office space and I have found one place that is very nice, in a great location and only two blocks from the Capitol Building, which would enable me to keep my eye on the prize. The rent is $850 a month and the suite includes three offices, a reception area and a conference room. I have another colleague who is looking for office space as well and we may go in together and lease that space for a year. Please help me with that if you can.
On Thursday of last week I met with my friend Rachel Kurtz of the King County Bar Association and Pastor Kenneth Glasgow of The Ordinary People Society for lunch and to discuss future plans for drug policy and prison reform in Alabama. After lunch Pastor Glasgow invited us to head over to S.K.I.P, which stands for Saving Kids of Incarcerated Parents, to watch him teach his weekly class to the kids.
Pastor Glasgow, simply put, is a human dynamo!! A real mover and shaker. I have been impressed by his work since I met him last year in Huntsville, AL at a Town Hall meeting and we have stayed in touch and sometimes worked together on projects since then. However, I have never been more impressed with Pastor Glasgow than I was that afternoon at SKIP. There were about 10 kids there that afternoon and naturally all of them had parents in prison, the majority for drugs. The kids ranged in age from 6-14 and the amount of knowledge they held about their communities, the problems and the solution was astounding. One 14-year-old girl left my jaw on the floor with her ideas and her grasp. They all talked about how they felt about their parents being in prison. When asked if they thought prison would help their parents they all said NO because jail won’t help sick people. Even at 6-years-old kids understand that basic premise.
One little 7-year-old boy, (who was so precious I could have gobbled him right up) began to tell us about Dr. Martin Luther King and he started out with the words, “Several years ago…”
I thought I’d fall out of my chair laughing at that. The center director clapped her hands together and said “No he didn’t”. It was priceless. This same little boy led us in a closing prayer to boot and even this Atheist was moved at his confidence and courage and surprised by the quality of his prayer.
I decided as we left that I want to be a part of that. So, I talked to one of the directors and asked what I can do. Once a week when my schedule allows I will be volunteering a couple of hours at SKIP in Montgomery, AL. Those kids are spectacular and if I can do anything to lessen their chances of following in their parents footsteps then I will do it.
When I arrived home that afternoon I had received an invitation in the mail to attend and address the Alabama Forest Owners Association in late April. This is a group of Alabamians who own large tracts of land and, hate the fact that the taxes they pay for that land go to a public education system that fails year, after year, after year. They are anti-fed for the most part, believe in property rights and want to be left completely alone.
I think my address to them will go over very well. The other candidates will be in attendance there as well and we each get ten minutes to speak.
On a more somber note my dear friend Roberta Franklin lost her son last Monday. Roberta’s son had been sick since last August with heart problems. Before we marched on Washington D.C. in August last year he had to have a pace maker put in. Then a month or so later he had to go back and have a defibrillator put in. A few months later he was still very sick and so they went back in and put in some sort of patch on an artery or valve. Well that patch infected everything else so the doctors went in and removed the pace maker and defibrillator but left the patch. Damon kept spitting up blood. So about three weeks ago he is placed back in the hospital in ICU and the doctors said that whatever was bleeding was behind the patch but the patch had attached itself to Damon’s heart and lung and in order to get it out they would have to remove a piece of each.
They sent him home to wait for the surgery.
On Monday Roberta sent me an email saying that Damon came into her room around 3:30 something AM pouring blood from his nose, mouth, ears and eyes and begging her to help him. She said she got him in the bathroom and the medics were called at 3:37. By the time they got there at 3:41 Damon had bled to death ….in front of his mother and little sister (who slipped in his blood in the hall and is traumatized, of course.)
I lost a child back in 2000….but not in such an awful way. I spent much of last week with Roberta. I feel so damn sorry for her….and she goes to prison tomorrow for six months. The state are some real heartless fuckers (‘scuse my French)…..Christian family values my ass. A mother will grieve the loss of her son behind bars while her 10-year-old daughter, who witnessed the death, will be shipped off to a relative?s house to deal with both the loss of her brother and her mom….all over $232 worth of food stamps.
Makes me want to claw my eyes out.
I attended the funeral. Man I hate funerals, especially the funeral of someone so young and someone that I knew and liked.
And I tell you what….I am not religious….but Rev. Nettles, who preached the service….that man flat got down….and the black women in the choir….all I can say is I want a black choir to sing me out of here and I hope they sing at my funeral like they sang on Saturday at Damon’s ….I’ve still got chill bumps and am thinking about becoming a frequent visitor to Freewill Missionary Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL just to hear that singing.
Roberta is doing about as well as can be expected. I spent a lot of time with her last week. I’ve lost a child too and am glad that I was able to be nearby during what has to be one of the most difficult and painful things a human being can experience.
On Saturday I encouraged her to talk with her lawyer about filing for a hardship case. Keep her and her family in your thoughts and prayers.
Another strange thing that occurred last week was discovering two prominent media people in Alabama discussing my cleavage in the newspaper. Needless to say I was SHOCKED! It appears that Mr. Bob Ingram wrote a smarmy little column about me and my campaign. I had never spoken directly with Mr. Ingram, or anyone affiliated with him, so I was surprised that any journalist would write about my campaign without calling me for information and a quote or two. Not only did he not call me he asked the editor of another newspaper to find a picture to run with the column. That editor searches the internet and finds the only picture where I am showing cleavage. It was done deliberately to make me look bad….but I think they failed at that.
I wrote to both men and said, “Now that you and the rest of Alabama have been introduced to the twins perhaps you would like to meet the rest of me. I’ll don my burka so y’all won’t be offended and then perhaps we can discuss the other planks in my platform since you only covered one.”
I have spoken to Mr. Ingram since then and he assures me that he wrote the column but had nothing to do with the selection of the photo. He and I talked for about 20 minutes. I asked him why he had decided that I was a “just for the fun of it candidate” when he and I had never actually met or spoken. He said, “I have been in politics 55 years and I know what I am talking about. You are a one issue candidate.”
I told him he couldn’t possibly know that because he had never visited my campaign website. I knew this because they printed the wrong URL with the article. He admitted as much and asked me what else I stood for. By the time I was done he had changed his opinion of me somewhat and seemed to be impressed with my grasp of other critical issues we face in this state. He even agreed with me on many issues. He and I will talk again and he promised to call me next time he is writing either about me, drug policy or prisons for his column which appears weekly in over 40 Alabama newspapers.
I find it amazing that journalists often complain about the quality of candidates available to the voters, ask why the “tough issues” like prison reform aren’t being addressed, complain about how politicians never actually say anything and don’t seem to have positions on any issues and along I come, being the very thing that they claim to want in a politician and the first thing they do is try to trash me by showing a photo of me in a low-cut shirt. Go Figure!!?
On Saturday, March 11, I was able to visit my brother Randy in prison for the first time in two years. Some of you will remember that the last time I attempted that myself and my sweet Christian mother were denied entry because we weren’t wearing panties.
My brother was recently transferred to a work release camp that is closer to home than the last place he was in and has much more relaxed rules. The men live in doublewide trailers (although there are 50 people to a trailer and that has to be incredibly trying for even the most polite of people).
We had planned this visit a week in advance and last night my mother (God she is a riot!) called to remind me to wear panties. That incident has become something of a family joke.
The conversation went a little something like this.
“Hey it’s mama. Y’all still plannin on goin tomorrow?”
“Yeah. I’m picking Teresa up at 9:45 in the morning.” (Teresa is my brother’s wife)
“Well, don’t forget to put panties on.”
“I won’t mom. I’ll probably have to go buy some…I don’t think I own any.”
“Well go to the dollar store and get you a pair.”
“I’ll wear panties mom…I can stop and get some at Wal-Mart in Sylacauga.”
“Don’t go to Wal-Mart they’ll charge you four-dollars. Go to the dollar store.”
“Mom there isn’t a dollar store between here and there. I’ll just stop at Wal-Mart and get some if I have to.”
“No…. I’ll just bring you a pair of mine.”
“No mom really…I think I can spring four bucks for a pair of new panties…although I appreciate the offer. And by the way, YUCK!”
“Well…I only wear them to church on Sunday and only then to keep my dress from sticking in my behind…you know you never see a woman in stand up in church that don’t reach back there.”
Oh god, my mother is such a scream!! She is so funny because she is being genuine when she says these things and she doesn’t realize how hilarious the things she says and does are. I love her so much and dread the day that I no longer have her to brighten my life with little mom-isms like the one above. Bless her…she is precious.
So, anyway, I had arranged to pick up my sister-in-law in a little town called Millerville in Clay County. It is the county where I grew up. As usual I am always early. I strive to always be on time and really hate to be late to anything.
I had been sitting in the parking lot of a convenience store that is closed down for about 15 minutes when I see a Sheriff’s car coming very slowly down the road. I know he is going to turn in and question me about sitting there so I just rolled down my window and waited for him to pull even with me.
I wasn’t a bit scared. Clay County, Alabama is still very much Mayberry, USA and a lot of the cops are lifelong residents with family histories going back generations. Everybody knows everybody and it ain’t unheard of for the local cops to drive you home instead of giving you a DUI.
“Hi Deputy, how you doin’ today?” (I recognized him…he has been a Clay County cop for a very long time. I couldn’t recall his name though and couldn’t see his tag.)
“I’m alright…say do you know anything about somebody fixin’ to open this store back up? I saw somebody down here yesta-d and I was wonderin’.”
“I don’t know. I live in Alex City and I am waiting on my sister-in-law to meet me here.”
“You got people here?”
“Yep. She lives in Cragford.”
“What’s her name?”
(I had to smile before I said her name as my sister-in-law and my brother have a very long history with Clay County law enforcement.)
“Ah…you’ll recognize this one….you know her well. Teresa Sapp.”
“Heh…yep I reckon we do know her pretty well. That means you Randy’s sister.”
“I always liked Randy. He always respected me and never gave me a minute?s trouble. How is he doin’ now?”
“Well, he’s in prison again. We’re actually going to visit him today at Childersburg Work Release.”
“He in for drankin again?”
“So what are you doin’ now?”
“I am running for Governor with the Libertarian Party.”
“You for real?”
I reached in the back seat and grabbed one of my info cards (they are really nice) and passed it through his window to him.
We began to talk about the drug war and he said right off the top that marijuana should be regulated like alcohol and tobacco and that it causes no problems.
I told him only an honest cop will say that and he must be an honest cop.
I asked him what kinds of problems Clay County is having with meth and he said they were pretty bad. It is an extremely rural, remote and sparsely populated county. I asked him if he thought all of the new laws restricting the sale of cold medicine had had an effect and he said no. I then asked him if he thought enforcement was working and he said no. Then I asked him what he thought should be done.
“I think they should make penalties stiffer. People on that stuff get a slap on the wrist, or a fine or a few months in jail and get right back out and go right back to it. I say make it tougher on them.”
“Well…look at all the enforcement that has gone into the drug war already. Has it worked?”
“Seems to me like it always morphs into something else.”
He sat there for a minute or so and then said,
“You know you’re right. First we had cocaine, then crack and now meth.”
“Did you know that you could get meth by prescription from a doctor?”
“You kiddin’ me?”
“No sir. And here is what I think we should do. Open meth clinics…just like the ones they have for opiate addicts, and get them on a clean prescription dose. Then that gets them off the streets and the cookhouses out of the neighborhoods. We could also offer treatment to them because as you said many drug users begin using drugs again once they get out of jail…so prison isn’t a cure right?”
“That makes the most sense of anything I’ve heard so far.”
He and I continued to discuss other political issues and in the end he looked at me and said,
“You make more sense than anyone I have heard in a long time. I’m voting for you. Tell your brother and your mom I said hello and I hope Randy gets to come home soon. All the luck to you in the election…I’ll spread the word.”
Wow!! It isn’t often one can say they are glad to attract the attention of the law.
My sister-in-law arrived and we headed down to C’Burg to try and get past the guards and visit Randy. On arrival we spotted my mom and my other brother John. They came over to us and the first thing out of mom’s mouth is, “Did you get you some panties?”
I thought for one horrified second before I could answer that she was about to pull a pair out of hers out of purse in front of God and everybody, but I was spared that humiliation.
“Yes mom…I got it covered.”
We proceed up to the gate and get in line. We had been told to be there at 10:45. There were already a lot of people standing in line and after we had been standing there about 20 minutes a guard announced that they were cutting visits off until 11:30. We wound up not getting in until closer to 12 and my brother John, who recently spent six weeks on life support, got very sick having to stand in the sun for that long. It was hot too…about 85 and there was no shade and nowhere to sit down.
While standing in line some people behind us started talking about the relatives they were there to visit and one of them said their son was there because of pot. I listened to the story without turning around for a few minutes and then, when I could stand it no longer, I joined in. I introduced myself and told them I am running for Governor and that part of my platform is drug policy and prison reform.
The rest of the people waiting in line crowded around. There were about 100 people or so out there. I began to talk a little politics and before I knew it everyone was telling their story and they were all very similar. Non-violent drug offenders, failed piss-tests, couldn’t pay the probation officer and so on. Outrageously long sentences. One guy has been in there for six years for a failed drug test.
Everyone wanted information about my campaign and so I told them I had info cards in my car. I said I would hand them out but only after we went in because I didn’t want to piss off the guards and lose anyone their visitation for that day. This camp allows you to bring in food from the outside and I knew the delicious smells wafting from bags of KFC, Mickey D’s and boxes from Pizza Hut must be maddening to the prisoners and to be denied after being subjected to the smell would be a terrible thing.
Finally we were allowed in. I was prepared to proudly show my drawers to the guard but all she wanted was my keys, ID and sunglasses. In effect, I had donned those offensive things for nothing. I gave her the items she requested and she placed them in a box, gave me a number and told us to enjoy our visit. Not even a pat down. I was pleasantly surprised to be treated like a free human instead of an inmate. What a change.
It was really great to see my brother. He looks good and is doing well. He has a good job and will have good insurance for him and his wife in 30 days. He wants to come home of course, and we all want him home… but where he is now beats where he was a few months ago by a long country mile.
We were able to take folding chairs outside the fence and sit in the shade.
While we were visiting Randy mentioned the panty incident. Some of you will remember that in the aftermath of that story a bunch of women from all over the US and Canada all bought panties and mailed them to Elmore Correctional with notes saying “These are spares…please keep them for the next time someone shows up to visit their loved one without any on.”
Although I had gotten an acknowledgement from the DOC spokesman that some panties were received, I never knew just how many of my fellow girly girls actually sent a pair. Randy told me that a few weeks after all of that happened he asked one of the female kitchen employees he had made friends with at Elmore about it. She said she hadn’t heard anything but would check it out that night when she clocked out.
As it turns out there were many hundreds of pairs of panties sent in to Elmore Correctional. So thank ya Girls for that awesome stunt!! It will not soon be forgotten.
We were able to visit for about two and a half hours and it was a very pleasant day. After two years it was really good to see my brother and to see him looking so well. I hope he comes up for parole soon and is allowed to go home. My mom needs help taking care of my other brother who is still very sick.
At 2:30 the guards announced that time was up and everyone began to make their way to the guard office to retrieve their keys and ID. Then they all went out and waited for me to get my info cards. I wound up giving out over 100 cards and 20-yard signs at the prison camp. I think I will make work camps regular campaign stops. I don’t have to win over the people standing in those visiting line….I simply need to inform them that I am here.
All in all it was a day well spent.
Here is what I have coming up in the next month.
On Tuesday March 13, I will be meeting with a writer for High Times in Montgomery to be interviewed for an article covering my campaign.
On Saturday March 17, I will be speaking at a fundraiser in Atlanta being hosted by Georgians Opposed to Prohibition.
On April 8, the Alabama Libertarian Party will be holding their annual convention where I am hoping to officially receive their nomination to run for Governor. Please join us if you are an Alabama resident and interested in casting your vote to confirm my nomination. Information about the convention is available at the above link.
On April 21, I will be participating in the Alabama Parent Teacher Assoc. Gubernatorial Candidates Forum.
On April 28, I will be speaking to the Alabama Forest Owners Association during their “Candidate Meet & Greet”.
On April 30, the airwaves open up to candidates for campaign advertisements. Please make a donation to ensure as many Alabamians as possible hear my message of sanity and plans for a better future.
I will also need contributions to continue printing campaign materials such as signs, info cards and flyers as well as money for travel expenses to get to all of the upcoming events I have on my plate and the ones that will come up at the last minute.
So far, with your generous contributions, I have had over 300 campaign signs printed, over 1500 info cards printed and 5000 business cards printed. This money also goes to pay for the website and office expenses such as paper, ink, stamps, envelopes, phone and internet. Every penny you send helps me meet basic operating costs and ensures that I will continue to be a viable candidate in this election and that the opposition will be continually forced to address issues that they would otherwise never be pressed publicly on. It’s a BEAUTIFUL thing.
This is how change happens and progress is made. Please do what you can to ensure that change and progress continue to be made in Alabama, one of the places where it is needed most.
Your Compatriot in the Fight for Liberty,