The renewed fight over electronic bingo divided judges and candidates for governor in Alabama and put 16 protesters, including two Greene County commissioners and a state senator, in jail.  The state Supreme Court cleared the way Thursday afternoon for troopers and police to begin removing 825 bingo machines from Greenetrack casino.

(Photo by Joe Songer/The Birmingham News)

Greene County Circuit Judge Eddie Hardaway Jr. had issued an injunction Tuesday against a move by Republican Gov. Bob Riley’s anti-gambling task force to raid Greenetrack.  The Supreme Court lifted the injunction on Thursday and removed Hardaway from any further jurisdiction over the case.

The Democratic nominee for governor, state Commissioner of Agriculture Ron Sparks, joined 10 members of the Legislative Black Caucus and more than 100 casino workers, now out of work, in a protest outside the casino, which The Associated Press said “grew into a pumped-up political rally.”  Sparks has pledged to disband the task force and give Alabama voters the right to decide whether gambling should be legal.

The two Republican candidates for governor headed into the July 13 runoff say they are against gambling.  But Robert Bentley, a Tuscaloosa dermatologist, advocates a statewide referendum on whether to allow gambling or shut it down completely, including stopping dog races and traditional paper bingo games, while Bradley Byrne, former chancellor of the Alabama Community College System, opposes a statewide vote, contending it could lead to more gambling.

Among the protesters arrested was Greenetrack CEO Luther Winn.  According to the Birmingham News, all 16 were released from Greene County jail after posting bond and being fed a lunch of peanut butter sandwiches and red Kool-Aid.

More Southern political oddities and entities

Bango: About 60 heat-packing gun lovers celebrated a new Virginia law allowing them to carry concealed weapons into restaurants at the O’Charley’s restaurant in Henrico County by cutting a giant cake bearing the logo of the Virginia Citizens Defense League and the message: “Ban Repealed, Rights Restored.”

At least he believes there was a Holocaust: Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus slammed Alabama Tea Party candidate for Congress Rick Barber for an ad flashing images of concentration camps, African slaves, North Korean prisoners and an imaginary conversation with Abraham Lincoln in which Barber declares, “Now look at us. We are all becoming slaves to our government.”  Writes Marcus, “Many words come to mind here, but one is sacrilegious … Another is unhinged.”

First the good news: Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of four finalists to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention.  The bad news: The convention would cost Charlotte organizers more than $40 million for everything from arena renovations to media pavilions to delegate gifts.  The other three finalists are Cleveland, Minneapolis and St. Louis.

Is he planting these stories? Portland, Oregon, police have reopened an investigation into allegations by a masseuse that former Vice President Al Gore tried to have sex with her during a massage session in 2006.  The allegations were first published in the National Enquirer.

But will it change his politics? The 70-year-old Nashville man who rammed his SUV into a car displaying an Obama/Biden bumper sticker has been convicted of driving under the influence and sentenced to probation.

1.  Don’t look Latino: The American Civil Liberties Union has issued “travel alerts” for Arizona, saying the state’s new law cracking down on illegal immigrants could lead to racial profiling and warrantless arrests.

It probably voted against the guns-in-bars bill: Wildlife officers in Nashville, Tennessee, were bringing in an expert trapper in their effort to corner a raccoon that has eluded capture in the ceiling of Legislative Plaza for five weeks.  Just hope it doesn’t go rogue.  Officials in Whitfield County, Georgia, are hunting for a rabid raccoon that bit and scratched a 6-year-old boy in Al Rollins Park.  The boy is undergoing treatment for rabies.

Check out our News and Opinion Feeds for a lot more Southern happenings.

###
Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor was born and raised in Georgia and worked more than 40 years at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a reporter and editor and as an online producer for ajc.com and AccessAtlanta. He served for a time as the newspaper's regional editor, overseeing coverage of the South. He is co-author, with Dr. Leonard Ray Teel, of Into the Newsroom:  An Introduction to Journalism and has conducted workshops in the Middle East on feature writing.