AP NEWS

Alabama editorial roundup

October 23, 2019 GMT

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

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Oct. 17

The Gadsden Times on the future of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Gadsden:

Last week (Oct. 9), U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, hosted a roundtable forum to discuss the future of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Gadsden.

That also was topic No. 1 at this week’s meeting of the Etowah County Commission.

We have no way of quantifying this, of course, just call it a “sense” — but we’d wager it’s also topic No. 1 in community conversation, both face to face and on social media.

And why shouldn’t it be?

According to figures presented by United Steelworkers Local 12 officials at last week’s forum, that plant has a $1.53 billion annual impact on this community, including $111 million in salaries, $2.2 million in city taxes and a large chunk of charitable contributions such as to United Way.

The economic and psychological ramifications of losing that are obvious — and people are scared that’s about to happen, given recent layoffs at the Gadsden plant that have it more than 20 percent under its full employment capacity, the news that Goodyear is offering voluntary buyouts to other workers, the fact that it’s been more than a decade since the company has made any capital investments here, the opening of a Goodyear plant in Mexico that has equal capacity but lower operating costs compared to Gadsden, and the silence from the company about the situation.

There was talk at last week’s forum of dialogues between the feds, city, county, state, union and company (with an emphasis on bipartisanship for the politicians) on ways to keep Goodyear here, including “out-of-the-box” ideas like providing incentives to Alabama’s auto manufacturers to use the company’s tires on their vehicles.

Commissioners spoke of getting state and especially federal officials to prioritize the situation, especially the latter since they have the ability to affect Goodyear’s operations and as such could more easily get the company’s attention.

We’re not dismissing those efforts; they should — they must — move forward, and every elected or high-placed official in every governmental entity within the borders of Etowah County should be present and involved, 100 percent of the time, and pester folks in Montgomery and Washington, D.C., to do the same.

We’re not going to hang out the white flag, concede defeat and wait around for the apocalypse, either, even in this grim situation. As much as people in this area love football, the concept of not backing off until the whistle blows should be in their DNA.

But there’s a reality here that can’t be escaped. If Goodyear chooses to stay in Gadsden, it will be for one reason — it’s to the company and its stockholders’ benefit. That’s the way things work in a capitalist free market economy. Goodyear isn’t going to stay in Gadsden just because it’s been here for 90 years, because this area really needs it or because folks need jobs, even if we say “pretty please.”

Convincing the company that staying here is in its best interest may be a difficult if not impossible task. It’s why the same leaders fighting to make that case would be derelict if they weren’t also preparing for a Gadsden without Goodyear.

But if the efforts to keep the plant aren’t focused on that objective, they’re just going to be flailing — and flailing accomplishes nothing.

Online: https://www.gadsdentimes.com/

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Oct. 17

The Decatur Daily and Florence TimesDaily on the state’s first cases of influenza:

Flu season is getting an early start in Alabama. Like Christmas decorations displayed in October, it just can’t seem to wait until a proper time. Not that any time is a good time for flu season.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, the state’s first cases of influenza started cropping up in September.

“As of the first week in October, one district (East Central) is already experiencing significant influenza activity, and there are sporadic reports coming in from other areas of the state,” the department reported.

The Northern District, which includes most of the Tennessee Valley, is one of the districts already reporting flu cases, according to ADPH.

The CDC estimates about 79,000 people died of influenza in the United States during the 2017-18 flu season, the highest number in the past decade.

The most important thing people can do to protect themselves against the flu is get vaccinated. It’s quick, inexpensive and easy, and while the annual flu vaccine isn’t foolproof — sometimes it doesn’t match the flu strain that becomes most prevalent — it remains the best protection against a disease that sickens each year “on average, about 8% of the U.S. population ... with a range of between 3% and 11%, depending on the season,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ...

To fight the flu, the Alabama Department of Public Health recommends residents:

— Get vaccinated

— Wash your hands

— Cover your coughs and sneezes

— Stay home with fever

— Clean and disinfect

— Learn home care

— Call your doctor if symptoms get worse

— Stay informed

For details, see alabamapublichealth.gov/influenza/prevention.html.

But the most important thing is to get vaccinated, not only for yourself but for those around you who, for various reasons, may not be able to get vaccinated.

Online: https://www.decaturdaily.com/ and https://www.timesdaily.com/

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Oct. 16

The Dothan Eagle on a school system’s response to missing school lunch money following a cyberattack:

Last summer, an ugly strain of malware infected the computer system of the Houston County school system, vexing administrators and delaying the start of the school year by 10 days.

Now the county Board of Education is finding that the attack is producing some unexpected costs, such as more than $6,000 in lunchroom billing disrupted by the computer issues.

Last summer, an ugly strain of malware infected the computer system of the Houston County school system, vexing administrators and delaying the start of the school year by 10 days.

Now the county Board of Education is finding that the attack is producing some unexpected costs, such as more than $6,000 in lunchroom billing disrupted by the computer issues.

That’s a small price to pay to ensure that students don’t suffer from a situation they had nothing to do with, and officials deserve commendation for their willingness to absorb that cost.

It’s also good to know they’re looking ahead to consider strategies to mitigate the trouble a future attack might cause, and even reduce the likelihood of another malicious attack.

Other school systems should take note, and consider Houston County Schools’ response to the recent cyberattack, and take steps to shore up their own digital security.

Online: https://www.dothaneagle.com/

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