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The North Mobile Post

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Steve Nodine Freed From Prison

Posted by David Merrell On May - 1 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

    After 15 months in a federal prison in Miami, Steve Nodine is a free man for now. The former Mobile County Commissioner is not out of legal trouble yet. His previous sentence was on drug and firearm charges. Nodine must now face murder charges for the death of his mistress, Angel Downs.

    Nodine has been tried once for the murder of Downs, but the trial ended in a hung jury. A date for the retrial has yet to be determined. Once Nodine arrives in Mobile he must report to the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office where he will be fitted with an electronic surveillance device and be placed under house arrest as he awaits trial.

    Nodine’s legal troubles have been big news in Mobile. He first round of trials dominated news coverage. The sequel figures to command similar coverage as he faces a retrial for murder. Mobile is a conservative city, and corrupted city officials are not looked upon with much kindness. Whether or not he is guilty of murder will be determined by a jury, but Nodine is already looked down upon by the general public for his other transgressions.

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Alabama’s Budget to be Cut by 10.6%

Posted by David Merrell On March - 17 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

    Governor Robert Bentley put out a press release ordering a 10.6% cut in the state’s General Fund Budget. The proration is necessary as several factors impacted Alabama’s General Fund. Millions had to put into tornado relief. Conditions in the stock market in the fourth quarter of 2011 also hurt the General Fund. The cuts will affect the rest of the fiscal year 2012 which ends on September 30.

    State agencies who get their money from the General Fund must reduce their expenses for the rest of the fiscal year. Under the Alabama constitution, the budget must be balanced every year. The state tried to balance the budget under other means, but came up short. Thus, cuts were necessary. These cuts do not affect the state’s education budget.

    Governor Bentley said in the press release that the government must watch its budget just like families do. He goes on to point out that the future looks brighter as the state unemployment rate has fallen to 7.8%. As the economy grows, more people have jobs and thus the taxpayer base grows.

    Last year Governor Bentley had to trim the budget by 15%. For fiscal year 2011 Alabama spent $1.58 billion from its General Fund. The General Fund finances many government agencies like Medicaid. These state agencies employ around 37,000 people. That number has shrunken since Governor Bentley took office as he has had to trim the budget due to economic woes in the state.

    Alabama is not alone in its budget cutting. State governments across the country have had to lay off workers and scale back pay as the weak economy has impacted their budgets. Cities are struggling as well. Mobile is currently locked in a budget battle as its deficit is about to trigger either cuts across the board or a 1 cent sales tax.

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Primary Day Has Arrived

Posted by David Merrell On March - 13 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

    After a week of big media attention focused on both Alabama and Mississippi, the day of action has finally arrived. A highly competitive Republican presidential primary has brought candidates to states they never though they would have to actually contest. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were in Birmingham on Monday night speaking at the Alabama Theatre at an event sponsored by the Alabama GOP. Mitt Romney was also in Alabama today, campaigning at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mobile on his 65th birthday.

    The race is still very tight. A poll released Monday by Public Policy Polling had Romney leading with 31% of the vote, Newt in second with 30%, and Santorum in third with 29%. Romney has also been leading in Mississippi. A win in either state by Romney will likely be the nail in the coffin for his opponents. If Gingrich fails to win either state he is expected to face a lot of pressure to exit the race.

    If Romney is able to finally cement his status as the inevitable nominee, it would come at the perfect time. Recent polls show President Obama’s approval rating taking a slight dip lately due to surging gas prices. As the economy continues to improve the president’s approval is sure to go up. The GOP needs a nominee who can begin to take on the president now if they hope to truly challenge him in November.

    Those who plan to vote tomorrow need to remember to bring some form of identification with them. Acceptable forms of ID include your driver’s license, social security card, college ID, work ID, passport, hunting license, fishing license, or a utility bill with your address on it. If you are unsure of where you need to go to vote, check out http://alabamavotes.gov/ to find your polling station. This site will tell you where you need to go to vote, all the forms of ID that are acceptable, and just about anything else you need to know about voting.



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Charity Live and Well Along the Gulf Coast

Posted by David Merrell On March - 4 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

    The United States is the most charitable nation on Earth, and it was once again proven this weekend. A pair of events went down aimed at raising money for good causes. The streets of downtown Mobile were packed for the 23rd annual Chili Cook-off. The event was sponsored by Trax Tire Pros and benefits the American Cancer Society. Money from the event will be used to help teach early detection, prevention, patient services, and research.

    Across the bay another benefit was occurring. This event was for injured Summerdale Police Officer Terry Fent. Officer Fent was injured in a car accident last month before his health insurance kicked in. The community came together and threw a fish fry at Garrett Park in Robertsdale. The money is being raised to help cover medical costs. Anyone who missed the event and still wishes to contribute can do so by making a donation at the Summerdale Police Department.

    Given the economic climate we are in today, seeing the giving nature of the people of this country is all the more uplifting. It is good to know that even in tough times we can count on the charitable nature of US citizens. Let us all hope that this quality is never lost.

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Mobile Budget Battle Heats Up

Posted by David Merrell On February - 28 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

    The city of Mobile is facing a $27 million budget gap this year. Mayor Sam Jones is pushing a temporary one cent sales tax to fill the gap. The alternative is cuts to city services and laying off city workers. The city has previously used a penny sales tax. From June 2010 to September 2011 a penny sales tax was implemented to handle a similar budget situation and generated $25 million in revenue.

    The city council was resistant to the idea the last time around, but eventually passed the measure and disaster was averted. This time may be different. Local 15 News is reporting that councilman John Williams is opposed to the measure and believes the city council will not pass it. Williams wants the mayor to scale back government and cut spending.

    Most economists argue that you should not cut spending in a recession. Mayor Jones has stated that up to 300 people could lose their job if some revenue is not raised to fill the budget gap. A one cent sales tax seems like the logical choice now, but Mobile has a long term problem that must be dealt with.

    Mobile is a city with vast untapped potential. We now have an empty cruise terminal that the city should be working night and day to refill. There are several vacant buildings downtown that would be perfect for new businesses. If the city truly wants to solve its budget problems it needs to improve its tax revenue the old fashioned way: by growing the economy.

    Mobile has to do more to promote new businesses within city limits. The first step has to be cleaning up the streets of downtown. Several nightclubs have been shut down due to the violence that is prevalent downtown. These businesses may not be the perfect ideal of what we want downtown, but they did bring revenue to the city. If police officers have to be fired due to budget problems then the streets will only get worse.

    The city should try and create more major events downtown like Mardi Gras and Bayfest. These events generate tons of revenue for Mobile. Anytime that people pack the streets of downtown, the city is benefiting greatly. Tourism is an area where Mobile needs to improve.

    Given its problems, Mobile should take the lead in an area where most cities large and small struggle, and that is the difficulty put on entrepreneurs in opening a new business. You often hear politicians on cable news talk about the federal government getting in the way of business, but it is local government that is usually the biggest headache. Mobile should make it as easy as possible to open and run a new business. Entrepreneurs would be drawn to such a location.

    Raising taxes and spending cuts can solve problems short term, but they are bound to fail in the long run. Eventually both become punitive on the economy and you exacerbate the problem. Mobile needs to grow its way out of this dilemma. It has the capability, all it is lacking right now is the political will.

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Megabus Coming to Our Area

Posted by David Merrell On February - 27 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

    Megabus is adding a new route to its network running from New Orleans to Atlanta. Two routes a day will be run at the start. Two stops will be made in Alabama along the way, one in Montgomery, and the other in Mobile. The route will be added April 2. Departure times for New Orleans are scheduled to be at 10:00AM and 9:30 PM. Departure times in Atlanta are set to be 12:00PM and 11:59PM.

    Megabus launched in the US in 2006 after a successful stint in the UK. The carrier company offers very cheap fares. The bus fees are made using a yield management system, similar to how air fare is charged. The earlier you buy your ticket, the cheaper it will be. Tickets can start out as low as $1, but are typically just a bit higher than that. The Associated Press reports that tickets for April 26 were going for $5 to Atlanta and $8 to New Orleans. Check out the Megabus website at megabus.com for more details.

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Another Successful Mardi Gras Season Comes to a Close

Posted by David Merrell On February - 22 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

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    With the arrival of Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras has come to an end. According to Local 15 News at least 153,000 people flooded downtown Mobile for this year’s Fat Tuesday. This year trouble was at a minimum in Mobile according to authorities. Family fun, food, and floats dominated the scene. For some, the count down to next year’s Mardi Gras has already begun.

    The carnival atmosphere was not relegated to Mobile alone. Baldwin County saw its share of action yesterday as well. Parades in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach saw big crowds on Fat Tuesday. The beach parades are known for bringing a lot of tourists from the north to enjoy the nice weather and festivities.

    Aside from being just entertainment, Mardi Gras also means big business to some along the Gulf Coast. A 2004 study showed that Mardi Gras had a $225 million economic impact on Mobile. That number has surely increased since then. Vendors, hotels, restaurants and many other businesses all see a huge spike in customers and profits this time of year. With the city facing budgetary problems once again this year, the surge in business was much needed.

    With the last of the beads and moon pies thrown, cleanup efforts began early Wednesday morning. The Mobile Public Works Department was out in full force cleaning up debris from all the fun had the day before. Very shortly the city will be back to normal and the anticipation for next year’s Mardi Gras will begin to build.

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Unwanted Mardi Gras Beads Needed for Good Cause

Posted by David Merrell On February - 21 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

    If you find yourself ready to throw out your beads after Mardi Gras this year, the city of Mobile has a better alternative. Recycling bins have been placed at Bienville Square, Spanish Plaza, Cathedral Square, and at the intersection of Dauphin and Washington Street. Once all the beads are collected they are given to the Augusta Evans School for special needs. The students there organize the beads and sell them back to Mardi Gras associations. The money earned is used to help the school. Its a win win situation for all involved. Help the environment and the students of Augusta Evans School by donating your unwanted beads this year.

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Everything You Need to Know About Fat Tuesday

Posted by David Merrell On February - 20 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

    Tomorrow the Mardi Gras season culminates with Fat Tuesday. Despite some foul weather washing out some days the event will definitely go down as a success for citizens and business owners alike. Below is all you need to know about Fat Tuesday: a brief history of the holiday along with the schedule of parades and a guide to parking. Be safe and have a happy Mardi Gras!

History of Fat Tuesday

    The term Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday. The name refers to one last night of delicious food and partying before the beginning of Lent. Mobile is home to the oldest Carnival celebrations in the US going all the way back to 1703. Mobile is also home to the first mystic society in the US. Mardi Gras celebrations ceased during the Civil War, but Joe Cain helped revive them on Fat Tuesday of 1866. Today Mobile is known as the more family friendly Mardi Gras location. Thousands pour into the streets of downtown each year to celebrate this centuries old tradition.

Fat Tuesday Parade Schedule

Order of Athena Parade – 2/21/2012 Tuesday 10:30AM Mobile Route: A
Knights of Revelry Parade – 2/21/2012 Tuesday 12:30PM Mobile Route: A
King Felix Parade – 2/21/2012 Tuesday 1:00PM Mobile Route: A
Comic Cowboys Parade – 2/21/2012 Tuesday 1:30PM Mobile Route: A
Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association – 2/21/2012 Tuesday 2:00PM Mobile Route: B
Order of Myths Parade – 2/21/2012 Tuesday 6:30PM Mobile Route: C

Parking Guide

    There are some new rules to parking downtown this Mardi Gras season. The Water Street median between Government and Dauphin Street is now off limits as well as the area north of the Convention center. Parking is available at the Mobile Civic Center, the cruise terminal, and the CSX building site. Expect to pay a fee of about $15 to park at these locations.

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The History of Joe Cain Day

Posted by David Merrell On February - 19 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

    Joe Cain Day is celebrated every year on the Sunday before Fat Tuesday in honor of Joseph Stillwell Cain, Jr. Cain is credited with reviving Mardi Gras in Mobile after it was halted due to the Civil War. In 1966 Cain dressed as a fictional Chickasaw chief named Slacabamorinico and paraded through the streets of downtown Mobile on Fat Tuesday. The following year he was joined by former Confederate soldiers who became known as the Lost Cause Minstrels. Joe Cain founded many mystic societies and helped make Mardi Gras what it is today. He passed away in 1904 and was buried in Bayou La Batre. His grave site was moved to the Church Street Graveyard in 1966 and Joe Cain Day was established the following year.

    Those first parades he marched in were the beginnings of the Order of Myths parade which traditionally is the last to run each year on Fat Tuesday in Mobile. Another mystic society known as Cain’s Merry Widows was founded in 1974 consisting of women who dress in black and mourn over Joe Cain’s grave each year on Joe Cain Day. The Joe Cain Procession is known as the People’s Parade because citizens could be in it without being a part of a Mardi Gras krewe. Joe Cain Day is usually one of the two biggest days of Mardi Gras in Mobile each year along with Fat Tuesday.

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The North Mobile Post was founded in April of 2011. The site serves as a blog covering Mobile County as well as news from around the world.

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