Scott Douglas Remarks at ACCR Rally
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Scene from the Jan. 31 rally.

On January 31, 2005 Scott Douglas gave the following remarks at the Birmingham Chapter of ACCR's petition rally.

Three things:

1. The Alabama Constitution Inhibits Economic and Social Progress in Alabama.

2. The Alabama Constitution Inhibits Community Building in Alabama across regions.

3. The Alabama Constitution Inhibits Active Citizen participation in their own Governance.

Greater Birmingham Ministries has worked for 35 years to address the needs of the poor in the metro area while working with others to address systems, policies, laws and policies that intentionally or unintentionally harm the poor.

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The highway out of poverty has some fundamental requirements: a good education, adequate health care, reliable transportation, and clean, decent affordable housing among others. There are constitutional barriers to achieving equity and adequacy in all those areas and, as some have said before, progress in Alabama is often a constitutionally inhibited activity.

With over 770 amendments, most of them local in application, the Constitution encourages fragmentation of governance and public services, encourages wasteful redundancies, retards regional cooperation, and encourages the world’s largest deliberative body on local issues, the world’s largest County Commission, the Alabama Legislature, to micro-manage the most local of issues.

And the constitution deters active citizen participation in state, county and local governance. When some of the most local of decisions are made by the legislature in Montgomery, or when people hundreds of miles away get a chance to out-vote the locals in a local decision of local application, something is faulty in the democracy enshrined in the Constitution of 1901.

In this work, faith matters, because people matter.

GBM is working in cooperation with ACCR and others across the state to develop and implement some ongoing workshops, faith and community based workshops and discussions connecting what we in Alabama care about, how those concerns are aided or frustrated by the Constitution; and how we can obtain a Constitution that respects an accountable democracy where citizens really matter, where both our vote and our participation really matter, and where we can play our role in being producers and not just consumers of governance.

For more information on our Constitutional Reform Education Campaign, we have materials on your chairs describing the campaign and we invite your participation and ideas. We have many volunteer opportunities and we wish to join our vision of a better, more participatory Alabama to yours.

-- Scott Douglas

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