I’m fond of the original over on Finley Avenue, but for convenience I frequent the Pepper Place Market Saturday mornings on Second Avenue South. Expanded to feature the offerings of artisans and craftsmen as well as produce, Pepper Place is a terrific venue for just strolling around, let alone loading up on comestibles.
The Market doesn’t just happen, though. Much as a farmer must tend to acreage, the organizers of the weekly event work hard to attract the right mix of vendors and to provide them a chance to prosper. If the Pepper Place Market is the sort of undertaking you’d like to see prosper as well, buy one of their T-shirts the next time you’re over there browsing for rhubarb. Better still, sign up at their booth to volunteer on one of these Saturdays. They plan to keep the Market going through December, so you’ll have lots of opportunities.
Springtime is also a season of change in the political world. During this time of year, we voters usually waken from our slumbers to discover what the legislature has been doing with our tax dollars, and this year there are some surprises. Since Republicans run the show in Montgomery now, they’ve passed bills to make it easier to fire teachers, to reform ethics, but not too much, and to redraw congressional districts to make it easier to re-elect Republicans.
In the spirit of making government less intrusive, the state senate has also passed bills requiring physicians to show ultrasound images to women requesting abortions, mandating a physician’s exam before a woman can get or use the RU-486 pill and stipulating that henceforth, human life in Alabama will begin with the fertilization of an egg and its implantation in the womb. (This latter bill, as the sharp folks at Left In Alabama observe, has the side effect of adding nine months to one’s post-legislation calendar age: “This means things like 50,000 newly eligible 17year old voters and mandatory kindergarten for 5-year olds. State employees will be able to retire at 59 and 20-year olds will be able to buy liquor.”)
Springtime brings changes in some people’s political thinking as well. For example, Jefferson County’s treasurer, Jennifer Champion, has suddenly decided that, though elected as a Democrat, she now has become a Republican. It makes good sense to switch this far ahead of next year’s elections, since so many people voting the straight GOP ticket will have forgotten she was ever a Democrat by November 2012. However, as one espousing a conservative bent, she might have retained more fiscal credibility sticking with the donkeys. Jennifer may need the extra time before the next election to come up with some plausible defenses of the Paul Ryan/GOP budget approach to financial solvency.
One wonders how the transformation occurred. Was there a blinding light from a Lexus LFA on the road to the country club? Did an apparition of Saint Reagan appear in the sky with a host of cherubim bearing an uncanny resemblance to Alan Greenspan? I’d like to think that Teddy Roosevelt might have been in the mix, but, alas, his trustbusting approach to fiscal sanity is way out of vogue in the age of Tea-conomics.
There was another political transformation last week with a more specific impetus. State Representative Daniel Boman from House District 16, down around Sulligent, announced that he is switching from Republican to Democrat. Apparently he didn’t care for the way Fearless Leader/House Speaker Mike Hubbard pulled the reins when he got to Montgomery. “During this current session I have seen this legislative body pass bills that I feel adversely affect what my people back home want, need and deserve,” Boman said. “I will never choose the party over the people again.”
Specifically, the first-term solon was taken aback by the anti-AEA tack the GOP has been taking, telling a press conference, “I was not com-fortable with the legislation that has been targeted at teachers.”
Hubbard, for his part, seemed unconcerned by the switch, saying in his own statement, “It was clear early on in the session that Mr. Boman was not aligned ideologically with the reform-minded Republican majority. Based on his votes on basic issues we campaigned on and promised to enact, I’m sure he will feel much more comfortable wearing the label of Democrat.”
I think we’re all still waiting for Chairman Mike to summon forth the legislative thunder on a couple of those basic issues, namely rolling back the 62 percent legislative pay raises and creating all those jobs that sounded so good on the campaign trail last year. There’s not much time left in the legislative session, but one can always hope. If one must.
Before your eyes slide off the page here, I hope they’ll linger over this commendation of all the musicians who turned out to enhance Bob Dylan’s birthday party at Moonlight on the Mountain, as shamelessly plugged in this space a couple of weeks ago. It was delightful enough that so many of North Alabama’s finest turned out to serenade the onlookers, but doubly so that they took the gig seriously and chose their Dylan interpretations so well. There’s insufficient room here to list them all by name, but we are able to relate that Keith Harrelson presented $1,337 to the Greater Birmingham Humane Society to augment their work in tornado-stricken areas.
We learn two important things from this: never underestimate the generosity of those who make music and those who love it, and, though it may be a good idea to create an event, it is a far better idea to attend. Thanks, all.
Courtney Haden is a Birmingham Weekly columnist. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.