AL-Gov Ron Sparks Is In, He Will Challenge Artur Davis; Alabama Agriculture, Moonshine, Stolen Cattle and the ACLU
Thanks to MW, admin of Progressive Electorate for bringing this to my attention. Last fall I supported Josh Segall for the AL-03 race (we came just short 47-53). Ron Sparks was one of Josh's biggest supporters. Now he's put his hat in for the Alabama Governor's race in 2010 against fellow Democrat and governor-hopeful Congressman Artur Davis. This diary has some of Ron's best work so far including a sting that yielded moonshine and stolen cattle! Much more after the fold in the hottest 2010 race to date. The electoral break is over folks, back to work! More about moonshine too (XX!)
Here's Ron at the DNC
Ron Sparks Basic Info:
He's the current Alabama Agriculture Commissioner. He's a Baptist with three kids. Born in Fort Payne, Alabama... Sparks led efforts to open the Cuban market to Alabama farm products, traveling to the nation and meeting with Cuban leader Fidel Castro, leading to Cuba’s agreement to begin imports from Alabama. During his second term, Sparks has continued the expansion of the state lab system. When a salmonella outbreak linked to tomatoes occurred in the spring of 2008, Sparks acted to secure verification that tomatoes grown in Alabama were not suspected of contamination with the disease, and to facilitate marketing of those tomatoes as "safe."
MONTGOMERY - Commissioner of Agriculture & Industries Ron Sparks held a press conference today on a months-long sting operation that has led to a tremendous recovery of stolen property. As of today, fifteen counties in Alabama and one in Florida are part of the dragnet. The total value of recovered items so far is more than half a million dollars and includes: cattle, tractors, backhoes, ATVs, power tools, utility and stock trailers. The investigation also led to the discovery of other illegal items including drugs, moonshine, and untaxed liquor.
"The last six months have been exceptional for our investigations team," said Sparks. "Not only are they solving crimes, they are recovering property that has been missing for years. As the economy has worsened, the number of cattle and property thefts has gone up tremendously as unscrupulous people try to make a quick buck off the backs of hardworking citizens. So many farmers and business owners have been hurt by these thieves. I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish by working together with other law enforcement agencies to solve crimes in Alabama."
The recovery of eighteen head of cattle at the Montgomery Stockyard was especially significant as it was the first investigation in Alabama where DNA testing was used to identify stolen cattle. State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier collected samples from the cattle and sent them to the State Diagnostic Lab in Auburn. From there, the samples were forwarded to a national laboratory to be compared with the DNA from samples collected from the suspected farm of origin. Five of the eighteen were positively identified by this DNA comparison to their farm.
I love this story!! They recovered moonshine and stolen cattle! This could be a story out of Deadwood, ND circa 1880. For the uninitiated, wikipedia defines moonshine as "a common term for home-distilled alcohol, especially in places where this production is illegal. Also known as; hooch, shiner and white lightning.
The name is often assumed to be derived from the fact that moonshine producers and smugglers would often work at night (i.e. under the light of the moon)."
Picture by Jimi b
This is a total tangent but when else am I gonna get to talk about moonshine? I love something about the history and culture of it, even though I'm not very pro-alcohol.
Here's how you say moonshine in other languages.
Armenia: oghee The production of oghee is widespread in Armenia. White mulberry, grape, cornelian cherry, plum, and apricot moonshine are especially popular, particularly in the countryside.
Brazil: One form that can be qualified as moonshine is known as "Maria Louca" ("Crazy Mary"). It's aguardente made in jails by inmates. It can be made from many cereals, ranging from beans to rice or whatever can be converted into alcohol, be it fruit peels or candy, using improvised and illegal equipment.
That sounds like an episode of Lockup I saw
once way too many times.
In Colombia moonshine is called "Tapetusa" or "Chirrinchi" and is illegal. The aborigines used to make their own version of alcoholic drink called "Chicha" before the arrival of Europeans. Chicha is usually made of corn, which is chewed and spat in an earthen container that was then buried for some time (weeks).
For Snake Bite
Czech Republic: 'slivovice' (pronounced "slivovitza") or 'Meruňkovice', made from apricots.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: lotoko
Denmark: hjemmebrændt (Lit.: Home burnt)
Dominican Republic: moonshine is called cleren in the towns near the border with Haiti and Pitrinche in the eastern towns
Ecuador: Puro (Spanish for pure)
Estonia: Puskar and is usually made from potatoes
Finland has lots of names for moonshine: pontikka, Other names are kotipolttoinen (home burnt), ponu, ponantsa, tuliliemi (fire sauce), korpiroju (wildwood junk) or korpikuusen kyyneleet (tears of wildwood spruce)
This is unbelievable!! It speaks for itself.
PARROTTSVILLE, Tenn. – Legendary Haywood County moonshiner Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton took his own life because he couldn’t stand the thought of going to prison, his wife said today.
Pam Sutton said she found her husband Monday afternoon dead of carbon monoxide poisoning outside their home in Cocke County, Tenn.
"He got his letter to report Friday, and he just couldn’t handle it," she said. "We tried everything we could to leave him on house arrest, and they wouldn’t do it. So I thank the federal court for this.
"And he was really sick. He was depressed. I didn’t know he was that depressed."
Sutton, 62, spent much of his life making moonshine, a craft that brought him fame and a string of criminal convictions dating back to the 1970s. He was facing 18 months in federal prison on moonshining and weapons charges and had told a judge at his sentencing he was in poor health and would rather die at home than in jail.
Pam Sutton said she went into town to run errands and couldn’t find her husband at their house when she returned. She found him at the rear of their property inside his beloved old Ford Fairlane, which was running, she said.
"He called it his three-jug car because he gave three jugs of liquor for it," she said. "He had painted it John Deere green and it had yellow wheels. He had drove it to California and back.
"He was a good man, he really was."
Agreed, although he had a bit of an alcohol problem (he shouldn't given that deer shiner).
In Germany, moonshine is called Schwarzgebrannter. The term is very often translated "black burned" since the word schwarz means black, but in this case schwarz means illegal (as in black market). A more accurate translation is "illegally burned liquor"
picture by michael donovan
There are many many more definitions...
But anyway.. back to business...
Ron Sparks speaking at Selma
This video is great from '07.. You could watch it but it's kind of long. I'll give you the highlights.
Sparks talks about normalizing relations with Cuba, cracking down on companies that get their food recalled, imported chemical catfish from China, Invasive plants like Kudzu, Fair Trade, Salmonella and a Peanut Recall from '07. Sparks says that Alabama Seafood needs to be antibiotic free. Hell Ya! He's big on food safety, and local foods. He put into the Alabama state legislator, a country-of-origin labeling bill (it failed). "92% of people want to know where their food comes from." He's against NAFTA because it's free trade and not fair trade. Losing jobs to outsourcing.. omg! This wingnut went after Ron in part 3 of the video by asking him if he knew the name of this blogger who had a pro-Sparks site. Ron said no. Then the winger said, well did you know that this person was on the Alabama Board of Civil Liberties? (like that was a red flag, the wingers went after Josh for his ACLU connections as well)
Continuing my summary of that Ron Sparks video..
Ron saying he's worked across party lines with Republicans. Winger host asks.. "If party lines don't make a difference, why not register as a Republican?" and here's a novel response from Ron; "All ideas from Republicans aren't bad, all ideas from Democrats aren't bad... there's a lot of things I would disagree with Republicans on, but that don't mean I don't like um!"..... Campaign Finance Reform... "I hate that part of the job I'll be honest with you.. askin people for money."
He seems like a really good guy. I'm going to check out Artur Davis some more and then makeup my mind. But Ron Sparks is definitely talking about all the stuff I care about.
Ron Sparks improved childhood nutrition through a Kid Fit Program that changed the menus at Alabama schools. That's awesome! It's gonna take a lot for Rep. Davis to match up to what Ron Sparks has shown me. Either way this is going to be a hotly contested primary for this Alabama Governorship, and we have two viable candidates to convert what is currently a Republican held position.