At PARCA, working to inform and improve government in Alabama is serious work—and we’ve been doing it for almost 30 years. But sometimes you just need to laugh.
Cue The Capitol Steps!
The Capitol Steps have elevated political satire to an art form. Before The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and features on NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS and NPR, this Washington, DC-based comedy troupe gave audiences laugh cramps with their bipartisan lampooning. The Capitol Steps began in 1981 as a group of Senate staffers who set out to satirize their employers, and haven’t let up with their hilarious skits and musical comedy. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or Democrat, neither side is safe from the group that puts the “MOCK” in Democracy!
PARCA Gubernatorial Candidate Forum Brings Leaders Together to Discuss Alabama Priorities
This past Wednesday, May 16th, PARCA held a 2018 Gubernatorial Candidate Forum at Woodrow Hall in Birmingham. The event was hosted by the PARCA Roundtable, PARCA’s young professionals’ group of 28 to 45-year-old civic and business leaders. It was a great opportunity for Democrat and Republican candidates to come together and express ideas in a nonpartisan environment prior to the June 5th primary election.
Participating candidates included Tommy Battle, Sue Bell Cobb, Scott Dawson, James Fields, Bill Hightower and Walt Maddox.
The forum featured one-on-one conversations with each candidate. The six conversations were led by PARCA Roundtable members Victoria Hollis, Peter Jones, and Kendra Key, young professional civic leaders Anthony Hood and Bridgett King, and WBHM News Director Gigi Douban.
A number of the questions specifically addressed the concerns of young professionals. Candidates were also asked about many of the issues most important to voters, as reported in PARCA’s recent Alabama Priorities. At the end of the event, all six candidates came to the stage for questions from the audience of around 135.
Some of the main ideas expressed throughout the evening focused on education, taxes, workforce development, the correctional system and the state’s image.
A collegiality emerged between the candidates throughout the evening, and for a few moments, there were no political parties, only public servants interested in improving the state of Alabama.
PARCA Roundtable Legislative Symposium
The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama and the PARCA Roundtable will be hosting the PARCA Roundtable Legislative Symposium on June 23, 2017 from 7:30 – 9:30 a.m. at The Harbert Center in downtown Birmingham.
The Symposium will be a review of the 2017 Legislative Session by CEOs of major advocacy organizations in Alabama, including:
A+ Education Partnership
Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice
Alabama Education Association
Alabama Policy Institute
Alabama Rivers Alliance
Business Council of Alabama
The panel will be moderated by Don Dailey, News and Public Affairs Director at Alabama Public Television and Host of Capitol Journal.
Remembering PARCA Founder Former Governor Albert Brewer
We at the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama remember our founder, Governor Albert P. Brewer, who died January 2, 2017, at the age of 88. Gov. Brewer was a lifelong champion of equitable, efficient and effective government for Alabama.
Brewer, who had been elected Lieutenant Governor in 1966, took over as governor in 1968 upon the death of Gov. Lurleen Wallace. In an abbreviated term, Brewer gave the state a tantalizing taste of New South leadership, turning away from confrontational racial politics that had dominated the Wallace years and instead championing reform of state government and the improvement of education.
Brewer established by executive order the first state code of ethics. He declined to fill cabinet positions that had been previously occupied by political operatives. He established a state motor pool, cutting the use of personal vehicles for state business, saving $500,000 a year. He centralized the state’s computer systems saving $1 million.
A former Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, Brewer took a hands-on approach to legislating, pushing through one of the most consequential education reform packages ever passed in Alabama. It equalized educational appropriations and raised them by over $100 million, increasing teacher salaries more than 20 percent over two years. He launched a Constitutional reform effort, established the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, and launched the operations of the state’s Medicaid program.
Despite the dynamism of his administration and the surge of hope and optimism it inspired among his supporters, Brewer was defeated in the 1970 election by George Wallace. Wallace unleashed what is widely considered one of the dirtiest campaigns in American political history against Brewer, featuring overtly racist appeals, altered photos, and false personal attacks on Brewer family members. Brewer’s defeat represents one of the great lost opportunities in Alabama history, according to former Decatur Daily Publisher Barrett Shelton, a lifelong friend of Brewer’s.
“Albert Brewer put a face on Alabama that other people respected, governors around the Southeast,” Shelton said. “Had he been elected governor this would have a different state today, far more advanced than it is today.”
After retiring from politics, Brewer remained committed to improving his native state. As an elder statesman, Brewer was often called upon to chair state government reform commissions, including his most recent service on the Constitutional Revision Commission. This November, voters approved four amendments to the Constitution based on recommendations by Commission. The amendments improved procedures for voting on local constitutional amendments, clarified the impeachment process, granted counties the ability to exercise some limited home rule powers, and replaced outdated language in some articles.
Joining the faculty of Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in 1987, Brewer led the establishment of PARCA, the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama; a good government think tank dedicated to the improvement of Alabama state and local government. Gov. Brewer envisioned that PARCA would become a trusted source of objective information for state and local leaders. He gave his time and passion to make that vision a reality, serving as the PARCA Chairman until 2013 and as Chairman Emeritus until his death.
Gov. Brewer’s death is an enormous loss for the people of Alabama. He was one of the greatest leaders and finest people our state has known. We will miss him and we will honor him by continuing the legacy he left for us.
PARCA Director Jim Williams Retires, Search for New Director Begins
Jim Williams, who has served as PARCA’s executive director since its founding, plans to step down from that position later this year after 27 years of dedicated service. PARCA’s Board of Directors has begun a search for a successor.
Williams’ career in public policy research has spanned 43 years. He was recruited by Governor Albert Brewer and Dr. Tom Corts in 1988 to lead PARCA. Throughout his tenure, Williams has been the cornerstone of the organization’s unmatched reputation for providing objective information and advocating for efficient, effective, transparent and accountable Alabama government.
“We like to think of ourselves as a good government think tank. We provide research that people and political leaders can use to improve public policy and government operations,” Williams said.
While at PARCA, Williams has guided such initiatives as the Alabama SMART Budgeting program and Alabama Student Test Score Analyses. PARCA regularly publishes research on taxes and spending, on state, county and local governments and on public school finances and operations. The staff has won eight national awards given by the Governmental Research Association for research quality.
In 2008, Williams was named as one of the “40 Most Influential Non-Elected Alabamians” in Thicket Magazine, asserting that he “has become one of the most influential policy people in the state. He has the ear of many in Alabama.”
With the announcement of Williams' retirement, the search has begun for PARCA's new Executive Director.
McKinney Capital is supporting PARCA by providing a Talent Acquisition team to guide PARCA's search for a new executive director. The job posting can be viewed here. The search committee is focused on finding someone with the leadership skills and track record of impact to advance PARCA’s mission of improving government for the people of Alabama.