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The Alabama Voter 
Summer 2012 Edition
Published June 6, 2012
Read here online or download for printing or reading offline [available soon].


A Byrd's Eye View

by Kathryn Byrd, LWVAL President

At the moment I am writing this message, it is still May. The League is in the midst of leadership transitions and planning on all levels. Local leagues have elected new officers and will be preparing for Board Orientations/Planning Meetings. The State Board just finished holding its biennial Council meeting in Montgomery, and is looking ahead to the election year by continuing our Vote project and other activities, preparing for the constitutional referendum in November, working on Facts and Issues on Environmental Management and on Health Care, and trying to assist the local leagues as effectively as we can.

The key is to success is planning. This edition of the Alabama Voter is designed to provide you with tools to get ready for our busy year again. One tool is the League’s “Event Planning Checklist,” for which there is a link in the “Guidance on Opportunity” article. Consider how your league can expand its effectiveness with new audiences, including younger populations through the use of social media. And very importantly, get your league organized and in “apple pie order” as a prerequisite to preparing for fundraising—as explained in Myra Evans’ workshop.

You will be receiving updates as the year progresses. But, in the meantime, please tell us how we can best serve you. And please consider making a donation to your local league or to the League of Women Voters of Alabama. If you are looking for a tax deduction, donate to the League of Women Voters of Alabama Education Fund or your local league’s ed fund. For donations to the State League General Fund or Education Fund, contact LWVAL Treasurer Shelly Murray at

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It's in the Bag! $400 That Is.


An empty manila envelope began its journey among the attendees of the May 5th LWVAL Council meeting. Myra Evans, fundraising guru from the Mobile League and presenter that day, simply instructed members who were interested to make donations for the LWVAL. The result: at the end of the day over $400 had been raised for the State League coffers. The moral of the story? Be creative and “make the ask.” Thanks, Myra, for demonstrating how it is done.

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On May 5th, the LWVAL board and representatives from all six Alabama local leagues—a total of 30 delegates—convened at Mobile Heights Baptist Church in Montgomery for the 2012 LWVAL Council. In accordance with Article IX of our bylaws, the State League meets in even-numbered years to “give guidance to the State Board on progress, methods of operation, and budget, as submitted by the State Board.” The minutes of the 2011 LWVAL Convention and the treasurer’s report were quickly approved.

Highlights for the year were presented next:

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Charter School Study

Committee chair Laura Hill thanked her committee and our local leagues, all six of whom participated in this two-year state study. Although the leagues across the state did not come to consensus on whether charter schools should be authorized in Alabama, all leagues did feel we could develop some positions on features of charter schools that should be, at a minimum, included in any enabling legislation. Because of the charter school legislation enacted during the regular 2012 legislative session, all legislators were informed of our position. The issue is bound to return, and so will we….

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Health Care Study

Chair Anne Permaloff described the updated schedule for release of the Health Care Study Report and the timetable for studyconsensus process. The first Facts and Issues will examine the problems and issues currently faced by the American health care system, their causes and impacts. (This report will be especially timely, given various cases and the upcoming Presidential election.) The second issue will focus on the nursing profession, nursing scope of practice issues, and the potential for nurses, especially advance practice nurses, to alleviate some of the problems in the health care system. Local leagues can expect these new Facts and Issues in early spring 2013, and the consensus process will occur during the fall of 2013. [Please note: Don’t forget the Facts and Issues developed by Marilyn Garrett and her committee in 2010, which discusses Health Care in Alabama. Go to]

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Environmental Facts and Issues

Joyce Lanning, LWVAL Environment Chair, is currently amassing an impressive committee of experts to help update the 1998 LWVAL Environmental Management Facts & Issues, which can be found on the LWVAL website at It is hoped that a draft of the update to be presented to the LWVAL board in the fall, with the goal of disseminating the final product in January 2013.

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Constitutional Reform

Nancy Ekberg reported that the Constitutional Revision Commission will resume meeting monthly beginning in June and continuing until the 2013 Legislative session begins. The focus will be Article IV, related to the Alabama legislature. The key focus is home rule. Nancy reminded us that in November we will vote on constitutional amendments that could eliminate racist language from the current Alabama constitution, as well as the banking and the corporation articles. Of particular interest was a bill that would increase the number of legislators who could force a statewide vote on a local constitutional amendment. Currently one negative vote results placing the constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot, where it is doomed to probable failure by voters across the state that would not be directly impacted by its passage/failure.

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The Advocacy Committee, Anne Permaloff (Montgomery), Chair; Hattie Kaufman (Tuscaloosa); Ruth Wright (East Alabama), is using the Legislative Priorities list established last fall by the State Board. (See below.) Several factors impacted the decision of priority ordering including: likely areas of legislative action; available resources; political reality of what was likely to pass; political reality of topics on which the League was most likely to be heard; and known support among League members throughout the state. Items listed within a Priority Level do not designate a rank order of importance.

Priority Level I (Highest)

Monitoring and action of highest priority. Major area for resource expenditures.

Constitutional reform

Campaign Finance and Elections
    Campaign finance
    Timely reporting of expenditures and
       donations; access to such information

Voting access and practices

Ethics in government

Government transparency and accountability

Natural Resources: Energy policy

Priority Level II

Monitoring occurs; action dependent on opportunity
and available resources.

Tax reform, including ending sales tax on

Judicial qualifications and selection, including
merit selection

Natural Resources:
Maintaining water purity and air quality
Alabama Water Management Plan
Coastal zone protection

Public transportation

Priority Level III

If and when opportunities arise, assess if action is feasible given resources and priorities.

Other ethics issues

Issues identified by LWVAL Advocacy
Committee and/or State Board or Local

Within one week of the first legislative session, the committee’s weekly report on legislative action was up on the LWVAL web page thanks to the excellent work of Jean Johnson. Each weekly report is based on the priority list and ordered to represent that list. For each bill supported, opposed, or monitored by the committee, the report gives the bill number, sponsor(s), bill summary/synopsis, League action and justification for the action based on League positions, and the bill’s progress in the legislature. The LWVAL 2012 General Session Legislative Report can be viewed at The 2012 First Special Session report is at

Monitored bills may be in that category for several reasons. Perhaps the most important are: several bills dealing with the same issue may be introduced and which, if any, may leave committee may yet to be determined; a variety of legislation gives a good perspective on the nature of the legislative debate; resources are being focused on other legislation; membership education; the bill is unlikely to pass but very likely to be reintroduced in a future legislative session; or there is no League position from which to act, but members are interested in the subject area and may choose to act as individuals. Often an analysis is attached for complex legislation and legislation that has been modified by amendment.

The committee believes that the report should not only inform about the bills introduced, it should serve to educate on LWVAL positions. So far this legislative session, over 760 bills have been introduced in the House and over 570 in the Senate. An initial analysis of each bill is made to determine which bills should be examined more closely. Those bills receive a recommendation from one or more committee member based on League positions and League priorities. Then, the committee votes on the recommendation.

This year the first five areas listed in Priority I have been very active areas for bill introduction and committee debate and action.

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Update on Project

Was VOTE411 [] successful in Alabama? Was it worth the effort in collecting responses from candidates, providing voter information and links to facilitate voter registration and polling information, and having to overcome a variety of obstacles? Look at the statistics:

As of March 20, 2012: Over 5,600 people from Alabama visited VOTE411 and over 1,400 of them looked at the candidate information. Of those who looked at the candidate information, they spent over 8 minutes reading the materials. The average time of a visitor to a site was around 2.5 minutes. The average time on the Alabama Vote411 site was about twice as long as the national average for Vote411 sites, and Alabama visitors accounted for about 20% of the total traffic to all Vote411 sites up to that point.

Although it was nice to have VOTE411 to promote and offer to the public, there were a number of obstacles that were generally beyond the control of the VOTE411 Committee:

  1. The Learning Curve to use the system was steeper than expected.
  2. Getting primary election candidate contact information from the political parties was challenging.
  3. The screen and movement around the site is not intuitive for everyone. We had to add some instructional words to our promotions to help people get to the candidate info section.
  4. The candidates had the ability to continue to edit their responses after the deadlines. [We don’t know if any of the candidates did edit their responses, but we never received an email alerting us to a change….which we guessed would occur.]

No matter how good the VOTE411 website, if it is not accessed, then it is not effective. Many of the promotional efforts made to increase public awareness and use of the website:

This summer all municipalities in Mobile County will have their elections (except the City of Mobile). LWV Mobile has never covered these small rural municipal elections before but this year we plan to use Vote411 to offer candidate info. We hope this will help voters begin to think of Vote411 as THE PLACE TO GET INFO.....and hopefully this will drive increasing numbers of people to the site for November. In November we will include the proposed constitutional amendments on the VOTE411 website. A brief synopsis of each proposed amendment will be offered, followed by a brief statement of what would happen if the amendment passed and what would happen if the amendment failed at the polls.

Vote411 would not have enjoyed its success if it had not been for the talent and perseverance of Mary McGinnis, VOTE411 Chair for the State and Vote411 guru for the Mobile League. We also recognize the tremendous talents and efforts of Jean Johnson, LWVAL Communications Director/webmaster. And a special thanks goes to the Mobile League, who shared their grant to help the LWVAL pay for the statewide coverage.

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Luncheon Speaker Reports on Legislature
Dana Beyerle: A Journalist’s Perspective

Council organizers invited Dana Beyerle, Montgomery Correspondent for New York Times newspapers such as the Tuscaloosa News and the Gadsden Times, to give us a journalist’s perspective of the 2012 Legislative session. Mr. Beyerle commented that he had not realized the LWVAL had members with such political savvy as Advocacy Chair Anne Permaloff and Constitutional Reform Chair Nancy Ekberg, so he appeared to have to adjust his comments accordingly. Beyerle spoke about the greatest accomplishments of the legislative session up to that point, the impediments hindering progress in the legislature, progress on constitutional reform (especially with regard to home rule), whether many leaders in the legislature are trying to restrict the voting rights of others, and, of course, charter schools.

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Workshops Bring Leaguers "Up to Speed" at Council

Attendees at the May 5th LWVAL Council participated in three varied workshops whose mutual goal was to bring attendees “up to speed” for the upcoming busy year(s) ahead.

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Steps to Successful Fundraising

LWVAL Council Workshop Presented by Myra Evans

It is hard not to marvel at the success of the Mobile League to organize and fund a wide and innovative array of projects, some of which have received national recognition. Myra Evans, a Mobile League member, has brought her expertise from work with other organizations. The following is the outline of her presentation, which in itself involved audience participation, or go to the link for the expanded, more specific version, all developed from the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation (ACJF): This link gives details and helpful examples.

  1. Define your project
  2. Identify the right funding sources
  3. Contact the funders
  4. Acquire proposal guidelines
  5. Know the submission deadline
  6. Determine personnel needs
  7. Update your timelines

Writing the Proposal
  1. Narratives
        a. Approach
        b. Statement of Need
        c. Method of evaluation
        d. Project timeline
        e. Credentials [such as your league' letters of incorporation]
        f. Tips on writing the narrative
        g. The HOOK
  2. Budget
  3. Supporting materials
  4. Authorized signatures
  5. Specifications
  6. Submission checklist
Follow-up: This is always important!

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Getting Social with Social Networks

LWVAL Council Workshop Presented by Scarlett Gaddy

In order for the LWV to have an impact during the 21st Century, we need to be adept with use of Facebook and Twitter, in addition to our websites and email capabilities. Scarlett Gaddy, one of our LWVAL tech gurus, agreed to introduce local leagues with background. Beginning with an excellent video presentation, Scarlett led a discussion with audience participants on navigating along the information highway. Plans had also included “hands-on” experience on the Internet, using computers connected by MIFI* through the technical skills of Shirley Anne Rawlinson of the Montgomery League. Time did not allow for that aspect of the presentation, so plans are in the works for a daylong presentation for local leagues later this year, featuring Scarlett, LWVAL Communications Director Jean Johnson, and Shirley Anne Rawlinson.

[*According to Wikipedia, MiFi is a line of compact wireless routers produced by Novatel Wireless that act as mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. MiFi stands for 'My Wi-Fi'. The MiFi can be connected to a mobile phone (cellular) carrier and provide internet access for up to 5 devices. The MiFi works at a distance up to 10 m (30 ft) and will provide internet or network access to any WiFi enabled peripheral device.]

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Something to Sneeze at – Connect the Dots on Climate Impacts

LWVAL Council Workshop Presented by Joyce Lanning

This workshop appeared in two sections. Before lunch, Joyce provided a quick overview of the impact of climate change. She also reminded leaguers of the LWVUS Climate Action Toolkit, which provides options for local leagues to address climate issues in their communities. Joyce is a member of the LWVUS Climate Control Taskforce, which is preparing an update to the toolkit.

By coincidence, the LWVAL Council’s meeting date of May 5th is the same as’s “Connect the Dots” activity worldwide. Interested groups all over the planet demonstrated their concern regarding the increased concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, resulting in a hotter planet. Joyce developed the idea of taking a group photo of LWVAL Council participants. Some were posed with dust masks, some dabbing tissues under their noses, etc., while holding large poster “dots” whose message “connected the dots” between climate change and its negative impact: a lengthened pollen season, heightened pollen production, causing allergic reactions, increasing suffering and the likelihood of asthma attacks.

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LWVAL Council Attendees Pose for Environmental Responsibility


At the LWVAL Council meeting in Montgomery May 5th, League members joined people all over the world connecting the dots between the changing climate and extreme weather events. The photo below has been posted on the website, along with similar pictures from all over the world.

At a break between the excellent presentations on social media and fundraising, we heard a little about the connection between increasing greenhouse gases, primarily from burning fossil fuels, a hotter planet, more pollen, allergies and asthma and the misery they cause and money they cost.

This is not only a quality of life problem, but also decreases productivity, affects business income and school performance, and increases health care costs – a result of our dependence on burning fossil fuels. It's a serious "something to sneeze at" - and we do. It impacts lives and livelihoods, causing suffering, increased expenditures and more sick days. Climate change is happening now. The price we pay for our fossil fuels doesn't reflect the hidden damages to our health and our environment.

We can begin the move to a clean energy economy now. Energy efficiency is getting the same result but using less energy and money by making buildings more weather-tight and appliances and lighting more efficient. Solar solutions are dropping in price and wind is a cost-effective option in many parts of the country. Let's connect the dots and look for wiser uses of energy through efficiency and renewables.

To view photos from <> Connect the Dots event, go to <> .

-- Joyce A. Lanning

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How Baldwin County's Earth Day Quilt Ended Up in Tuscaloosa

LWVAL President Kathy Byrd recently received a telephone call informing her she had just won a quilt in a raffle sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Baldwin County at their Earth Day booth. Kathy had heard about the quilt when she attended Baldwin County’s annual meeting in April, and hoped to buy some “chances.” Unfortunately, Kathy was too busy meeting with various local league members and guests, and did not have time to get her wallet out. However, her husband Gene, who also attended the meeting, did make the purchase, so Kathy’s name was “in the hat” along with the names of those who purchased chances at the Earth Day fair. Kathy’s name was drawn, and LWVBC President Lynne Switzky presented it to her at the LWVAL Council meeting!!! And what will she do with it? Has she ever told you about her twin granddaughters Julia and Lydia???

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Nancy Ekberg Reports on Constitutional Reform

(Excerpts from her ACCR reports)

May 12, 2012

As you know, there are three constitutional revisions that will appear on the ballot in November. They are: the elimination of the unconstitutional language, the revision of the banking article and the revision of the corporations article.

The Constitutional Revision Commission will resume their meetings in June and will focus on revision of Article IV, the Legislature. It is in this Article that we can hopefully bring some form of revision that includes home rule for counties.

As we think about home rule, we see that legislators are continuing to run our counties. Legislation offered this past session included a bill by Senator Dial and Rep. Laird which would have taken money from the counties they support and use it for charities the Senators wanted to fund. It passed the Legislature but fortunately, Governor Bentley did not sign the bill. In an earlier bill, which did not pass, Rep. Long and Rep. Rich tried to take money from the counties they represent to provide funds for some teachers in their counties. While we support funding for teachers, we do not feel some legislators should use their counties' money to provide a special grant.

We will keep you posted on the Constitutional Revision Commission's meetings. Remember these are open meetings and you are invited to attend. They are customarily held on Wednesday afternoons and held in room 617 of the State House in Montgomery. Information about the Commission is available on the Alabama Law Institute web site
ACCR Inc. is paying a court reporter to create a transcript of all proceedings, which are also available on the ALI web site.

The bill by Senator Dial and Rep. Laird (SB486 and SB487) mentioned above passed the Legislature, but Governor Bentley did not sign it. However, then unfortunately, the Legislature overrode the Governor's veto. And the earlier bill ( HB476) b Rep. Long and Rep. Rich did pass.

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Local League News

League of Women Voters of Greater Tuscaloosa

The collaboration with local organizations continues to grow. In September and October we organized a class for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) called Civics 101. Each Tuesday for four weeks, representatives from The Tuscaloosa County Board of Education, the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education, the Tuscaloosa County Commission, or the Tuscaloosa City Council spoke and responded to questions.

In January we cooperated again with OLLI and with the Tuscaloosa University of Alabama Retirees Association (TUARA) to hold a Meet Your Legislators Night. Tuscaloosa County Legislators from the Alabama House and Senate had an opportunity to discuss upcoming legislation and to answer questions from the floor.

The LWVGT is planning a forum for the Northport Municipal elections that are coming up in August. We hope to again collaborate with the Women’s Resource Center. Through the Center we have attracted some student LWV members, two of whom are serving on our Board.

Our Board Orientation will be held in August. We will then begin to plan for a forum for Tuscaloosa County elections in November.

-- Shari Augins, Spokesperson

League of Women Voters of Mobile

Several new exciting endeavors have grown out of the success of the Vote 18 project including:
• Vigor High School Civic Engagement Project - LWV Mobile has partnered with C. F. Vigor High School and Emerging ChangeMakers Network to guide a nucleus of student leaders in a student-led civic engagement project by using the planning and production of a mayoral candidate forum as a teaching aid. Students have identified important problems facing their community,are learning about city government, and meeting with community leaders as preparation for hosting the Prichard, AL candidate forum on August 16, 2012 before municipal elections.
• The Civil Rights Movement & Today's Young Voters - LWV Mobile is partnering with the University of South Alabama’s Communication Department and African-American Studies Program on The Civil Rights Movement and Today’s Young Voters project. University students will make a documentary film with interviews of surviving local civil rights activists. The League will schedule viewings of the film and promote a facilitated dialogue to increase awareness of the fact that voting is real power only when it is used. Elements of the discussion may include questions such as: Why don’t people vote? What would their community look like if the civil rights movement had not occurred? What might their community look like if everyone voted?

League of Women Voters of East Alabama (from Council Report)

The East Alabama LWV began its year with a panel of speakers on immigration: Scott Douglas of Greater Birmingham Ministries, Lecia Brooks of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Professor Jose Llanes of Auburn University College of Education. They discussed the provisions and implications of Alabama’s new immigration law.
A forum attended by four members of the Lee County legislative delegation in January was informative.
Consensus was reached on both charter schools and the national education study under the leadership of education chair John Frandsen. The year’s programs concluded with studies of area water concerns.
Dusty Nix, editorial page editor of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer spoke on “Responsible Political Journalism in an era of Scorched Earth Rhetoric.”

League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham (from Council Report)

The LWVGB sponsored two public forums, one, led by delegation chairs DeMarco and Rogers, focused on the legislature’s role in solving Jefferson County’s continuing financial problems; the other in March introduced judicial candidates.
The LWVGB was featured in the New York Times on Election Day with pictures of members putting out “Vote Tuesday” signs.
The League also participated in Sunshine in Government and Earth Day projects as well as completing the state education consensus.

League of Women Voters of Baldwin County

The LWVBC’s forum on charter schools presented speakers on both sides of the issue, leading to a lively discussion.
The annual meeting speaker Roberta Swann, director of the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program discussed ways governmental and other agencies are working to correct problems of erosion and wetland destruction. The League instituted a fund in memory of Jeanne Lacy, who devoted years of her life to the preservation of the bay area through both the BC and state LWVs.
The BC and Mobile Leagues shared a booth for voter registration at the Fairhope Earth day celebration.

League of Women Voters of Montgomery

The Montgomery LWV devoted much of its time to the state and national education studies. The League also were briefed on the International Baccalaureate program Montgomery schools hope to implement.
A workshop led by Mary McGinnis and Myra Evans of Mobile on ways to recruit members and energize the League was well received.

Of course, all the local leagues had parties and luncheons and generally enjoyed each other’s company. Don’t we always do that?

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Follow the Status of Forever Wild Legislation and Activities

Joyce Lanning forwarded the following from Bee Frederick of Alabamians for FOREVER WILD . Visiting the websites listed will enable you to keep up with ways of ensuring Alabama is able to maintain its wilderness areas.

“We have been able to attend various events that our coalition members have held, and we look forward to having a presence at as many events as possible leading up to the election. Please keep us updated on any relevant events sponsored by your organization by simply emailing us at with all the appropriate information.

Earlier this week we had a short letter-to-the-editor run in North Alabama. The Times-Daily article <,191016> written by D.D. Martin highlights the positive track record of the Forever Wild Land Trust program and calls attention to the attempt to divert funding from the wildly successful program. Please let us know if you would be willing to sign on to a letter-to-the-editor should the need arise.

Lastly, fundraising remains a top priority as we head into the summer. With our broad and expansive coalition, we hope that you will encourage members of your respective organization to make a donation <> to Alabamians for Forever Wild. Use the previous link or click the web address to be directed to the fundraising website -

NOTICE: Thanks to a two-year grant, Alabama Arise has a speaker available to explain the current federal health care law – what it has already accomplished and what it portends for the future. They are looking for groups to sponsor public meetings. If your local league is interested or you know of another group that might be, please contact Dollie Hambrick, Health Care Organizer, at
(334) 832-9060.

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LWVAL Board and Off-board

Kathryn Byrd

1st Vice-President
Mary Lynn Bates

2nd Vice-President and
Membership Development
Scarlett Gaddy
(Membership Development with Mary McGinnis)

Yvonne Brakefield

Shelly Murray


Laura Hill
Education (Charter Schools Study)

Hattie Kaufman
Voter Service
(Voter Service with Mary McGinnis)

Joyce Lanning
Environment / Natural Resources

Mary McGinnis
Membership Development / Voter Service / Financial Development
(Membership Development with Scarlett Gaddy)
(Voter Service with Hattie Kaufman)
(Financial Development with Jeanine Normand)

Jeanine Normand
Financial Development
(Financial Development with Mary McGinnis)

Anne Permaloff
Advocacy and
Health Care in Alabama

Charlotte Ward
LWVAL Voter Editor


Nancy Ekberg
Constitutional Reform

Jean Johnson
205 870-3063 home
205 222-2097 cell

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