Citizens’ Commission on
Constitutional Reform to hold
Public Meeting
.in Huntsville on July 15

Citizens’ Alert !
.The Alabama Citizens' Commission on Constitutional Reform
wants to hear what you have to say!

Join us on Monday, July 15, 2002, for the first of four public meetings to be held around the state to allow citizens to voice their opinions on constitutional reform.

WHEN: Monday, July 15, 2002, 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
WHERE: Alabama Constitution Village, Huntsville, AL
WHAT: Public meeting on Constitutional Reform
8:30 a.m. - noon: Presentations on methods for constitutional revision and local self-government.
Noon - 1:00 p.m.: Brown bag lunch (Dutch) with members of Commission
1:00 - 4:30 p.m.: Citizens comments to Commission* and Deliberations by Commission

DIRECTIONS TO CONSTITUTION VILLAGE: 109 Gates Avenue, Downtown Huntsville
From Birmingham: I-65N to Exit #340 (I-545). EAST on I-565 into Huntsville (19 mi).
Take Exit 19C (Downtown Huntsville). At bottom of ramp, turn RIGHT on Jefferson St.
which becomes West Side Square, then becomes Madison St. Alabama Constitution Village
will be on your left, 1 blk past town square @ Madison St & Gates Ave. Turn left on Gates
Ave. Street parking is available on Gates Avenue. Enter Constitution Hall from an entrance on
the corner of Franklin and Gates.
FYI: The Village spans the entire block along Gates Ave. between Madison and Franklin
If coming from Noth of Huntsville, use Exit 19A, and turn left on to Jefferson at the end of
the ramp and follow the rest of the directions from above.

*Any citizen interested in making public comments on constitutional reform may sign up on the day of the meeting for a 5 minute time slot during which he or she may address the Commission. Although comments relating to the specific issues of local control and methods for constitutional revision will be given first priority, comments on any issues regarding constitutional reform will be welcomed and permitted.

July 3,2002
CONTACT: Kathryn Bowden (334.834.5495)

HUNTSVILLE – The Alabama Citizens’ Commission for Constitutional Reform will hold its second session, September 9, in this historic city, where a convention drafted the state’s first charter of fundamental laws in 1819.
The modern group will consider changes for Alabama’s 1901 Constitution, the sixth such document since statehood. Almost since its adoption, citizens and leaders across the state have been calling for the revision for Alabama’s current constitution. Now the nation’s longest state constitution, the 1901 document has been amended 708 times.

   Sec. of State Jim Bennett, a long-time advocate for constitutional reform, is the commission’s chairman. He will be joined by a diverse group of 22 citizens. Among them are an associate Supreme Court justice, as well as business owners, educators, pastors, lawyers, civic leaders, and retired military.

   The commission will meet four times in different locations around the state to listen to citizens express their views about reform, as well as hear from leading experts on constitutional matters. After its deliberations, the group will then make a recommendation to the governor and the Legislature on how to best approach constitutional reform issues. The non-partisan panel will not be attempting a rewrite of the 1901 constitution; rather it will compile and present the thinking of Alabama’s citizens along with best practices research to provide a foundation for further reform.

   Financial and logistical support is provided by Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform. The grassroots organization, with offices in Montgomery, has close to 2,000 members statewide.

   Inspiration for the commission came from several sources, said Kathryn Bowden, ACCR’s executive director.

   Gov. Thomas E. Kilby recommended such a group in 1923, when he asked the legislature to call a convention to replace the 1901 Constitution. He envisioned that a commission would lay the groundwork for reform, while soliciting citizens’ views. In 1969, Gov. Albert Brewer persuaded the Legislature to create a commission. It actually drafted a model constitution, but the Legislature failed to act on it.

   The new commission is closer to what Kilby had in mind, Bowden said. ACCR’s board decided it would work best if it was independent of state government. ACCR solicited nominations and suggestions from many people and organizations.

  “We now have a genuine citizens’ commission whose members bring open minds and open agendas to the process of fixing Alabama’s government,” Bowden said. “They will take our state one step closer to deciding whether it’s time to draft a new constitution for a new century.”

   The group will begin its deliberation at Huntsville’s Constitution Village at 8:30 a.m. All events are open to the public, and those in attendance may purchase a brown bag lunch at the event. Comments from the public will begin at 1 p.m.

   Topics for this session will be local democracy and methods for constitutional revision. Alabama also is one of the few states that fails to grant local democracy to its counties—a condition that accounts for about 70 percent of the amendments.

   Prof. Howard Walthall of the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University will lead a panel of technical advisors who will appear before the commission during the morning. Others advisors will be Dr. Anne Permaloff, Auburn University in Montgomery; Dr. Randolph Horn, Samford University; and James W. Williams Jr., executive director of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama.

   Topics for other sessions will include governmental organization, taxes and debts, education and economic development.

   Places and dates for the other sessions are Birmingham, September 9; Mobile, October 21; and Auburn-Opelika, December 9.

   For further information, please call ACCR at 334-834-5495 or send e-mail inquiries to accr2@bellsouth.net

The following is a list of the commission’s members:
Valerie Barnes – communications director, Dothan
Donald Brown - retired newspaper editor, Tuscaloosa
Gary Burton - minister, Pintlala
Lisa Christopher - civic leader, Vestavia
Sallie Creel - business owner, Birmingham
Scott Douglas - Greater Birmingham Ministries, Birmingham
Johnny Green - professor and minister, Auburn
Madeline Hill – MSW, civic leader, Tuscaloosa
Steve Holt - Chamber president, Florence
J. Gorman Houston - Associate Justice, AL Supreme Court, Montgomery
Robert Huffaker - attorney, Montgomery
Hartwell Lutz – retired military, retired judge, civic leader, Gurley
Lynda Malone – guidance counselor, education activist, Grove Hill
Jake Mathews – attorney, community leader, Anniston
John Nixon – businessman, Birmingham
Jerry Pow - probate judge, Centreville
Morris Savage - attorney, Jasper
Alex Sierra – restaurant owner, Arab
Karen Stanley – vice president of family-owned business, civic leader, Huntsville
Eddie Thomas – minister, retired high school teacher, Dothan
Julius Thrower – minister, retired military, retired educator, Mobile
Claudia Turner – high school teacher, college professor, Prattville.

Printable Schedule
Reform’s Next Move ~
The Huntsville Times July 7, 2002
Citizen’s Commission
~The Birmingham News, July, 2002

Return to: Editorial Index

Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 34
Montgomery, Alabama 36101-0034

E-mail: accr@constitutionalreform.org
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