Daily Headlines, Friday, 8/12/2011

Montgomery AdvertiserRoss, Geddie acquitted in gambling corruption trial

Montgomery AdvertiserRetrial date to be set; defense says they’ll be ready

Montgomery AdvertiserClinic owner gets 2 years in fraud case

Montgomery AdvertiserSchool board accepts Thompson evaluation process

Montgomery AdvertiserRally kicks off United Way effort

Montgomery AdvertiserAdvertiser Editorial: Lessons from trial

Huntsville TimesHuntsville middle school teacher to be fired over unapproved leave, has been taking similar time off for 9 years

Huntsville TimesSen. Jabo Waggoner says facilities at Alabama A&M among worst in state, vows to be ‘cheerleader’ for school in Legislature

Huntsville TimesHuntsville business leaders named to new Manufacturing Advocacy Council

Huntsville TimesTimes Watchdog Report: Alabama GOP looks OK at ballot box no matter the ruling on immigration

Huntsville TimesImmigration law worth the cost? (editorial)

Huntsville TimesEditorial: Enforcing Alabama’s campaign laws

Birmingham NewsJefferson County residents fear outcome of sewer debt resolution

Birmingham NewsWall Street creditors make Jefferson County new settlement offer with lower rate increases

Birmingham NewsAlabama Organ Center director fired, under investigation

Birmingham NewsBirmingham Business Alliance: Jefferson County must avoid bankruptcy

Birmingham NewsJudge appointed to Court of Criminal Appeals in February to seek full term in 2012

Press-RegisterFairhope to pay police chief Bill Press’ legal bills

Press-RegisterAlabama bingo trial verdicts: Not guilty, undecided (with slideshow, video)

Press-RegisterAuburn natural gas work leads to $73,000 OSHA fine proposal

Press-RegisterCoastal convention center still needed (editorial)

Press-RegisterWhat’s that awful smell? (editorial)

Tuscaloosa NewsResidents seek answers about Forest Lake’s future

Tuscaloosa NewsRihanna concert boosts city storm fund

Tuscaloosa NewsPartlow may lose Medicaid eligibility

Tuscaloosa NewsNew law aimed to stop concussions

Tuscaloosa NewsEDITORIAL: Steps to reduce concussions are timely, necessary

Florence TimesDailyRecovery efforts take step forward

Florence TimesDailyLawmakers weigh in on mistrial

Florence TimesDailyNational Alabama to sell 95 railcars

Florence TimesDailyAudience blasts Big Oil tax cuts

Anniston StarA chapter closed: Bingo verdicts show difficulty of proving bribery in politics

Anniston Star‘Nuff said on party-switching

Anniston StarPhillip Tutor: A message for the South’s governors

Anniston StarJames L. Evans: What’s wrong with America?

Decatur Daily FEMA came through for Lawrence woman

Associated Press14 Alabama schools use grant for advanced courses

Associated PressAla. schools get funding for temporary safe rooms

Associated PressFormer state Sen. Preuitt not guilty of extortion and all 11 counts of honest services fraud.

Associated PressCasino lobbyist Bob Geddie cleared of all charges.

Associated PressCasino lobbyist Tom Coker not guilty of 1 count of bribery, 10 counts of honest services fraud

Associated PressCasino owner McGregor not guilty of 1 count of bribery and 2 counts of honest services fraud

Washington PostGroups seek ban in 8 Southern states on genetically-modified crops in federal wildlife refuges

GOP Senate Caucus Hires Siegelman Chief of Staff – Updated

Paul Hamrick, the one time chief of staff to former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman, has been hired to do communications work for the Republican Senate majority caucus.

Email from Sen. Jabo Waggoner yesterday was the first notice most caucus members received of the “strange hire” (in the words of one).

I wanted to inform all of you that I have hired Paul Hamrick to be the PR/Communications Consultant for the Caucus. Paul has agreed to a contract beginning on March 1, 2011 and ending June 1, 2012. I am including in this email Paul’s contact information. He will be available to us collectively and individually so please feel free to call upon him with whatever you are needing at this level. Please call me or email me if you have any questions.

[contact info removed]

Thanks -

Hamrick was acquitted of racketeering, conspiracy and fraud charges in the same 2006 trial that convicted Siegelman and Healthsouth CEO Richard Scrushy.

This “would be the major story of the party right now,” one loyalist tells the Political Parlor, “if Jay Love hadn’t been surprised today and the Riley folks are going around crying in their beer [about Love losing the party chairmanship to Bill Armistead this morning].”

This has become a major brouhaha among Republican state senators because the hiring had not been discussed with them beforehand and because some of them consider Hamrick “the nemesis, the other side,” as one GOP’er put it. “We got someone from the Christian right to run the party and a left-wing Democrat to run the Senate caucus.”

Update: A Senate insider tells the Parlor that the email as it went out had a typo and that the contract is to run until June 30, 2011, not June 1, 2012.

Related Articles:

Senate Sets up New Committee Leadership

The Organizational Session is now behind us. It seems like it lasted a couple of weeks when in fact it only was 48 hours long. Below is a list of the new Senate Leadership and Committee Chairmen:

Rules Committee Chair- Scott Beason
Education Appropriations- Trip Pittman
General Fund Appropriations- Arthur Orr
Judiciary- Cam Ward & Ben Brooks
Confirmations- Jabo Waggoner
Fiscal Responsibility- Phil Williams
Governmental Affairs- Jimmy Holley
Education Policy- Dick Brewbaker
Constitution & Elections- Bryan Taylor
Agriculture- Tom Whatley
Banking & Insurance- Slade Blackwell
Small Business- Shad McGill
Job Creation & Economic Development- Paul Sanford
Commerce- Gerald Allen
Health- Greg Reed
Energy- Cam Ward & Ben Brooks
Tourism- Clay Scofield
Business & Labor- Rusty Glover
Children Affairs- Paul Bussman
Veterans Affairs- Bill Holtzclaw

Overall there were few surprises in the committee assignments. The rules of the Senate were adopted with little controversy and while there was some tension in making sure everyone was assigned to their committee of choice, in the end it seemed to be a good start for the Senate compared to past years.

Alabama's New State Senate

The new Alabama state Senate will have 22 Republicans, 12 Democrats, and one Independent when it convenes next year. That’s compared to this year’s outgoing Senate that had 20 Democrats and 15 Republicans.

There are still a few numbers to be filled into the chart as they become available.

District Last Senate 2010 Election
Bobby Denton (D) – (2006 – 64%) – [Retired] Tammy Irons (D) – (2010 – 56%)
Tom Butler (D) – (2006 – 60%)
Bill Holtzclaw (R)
Arthur Orr (R) - (2006 – 62%) 
Arthur Orr (R) - (2010 – unopposed) 
Zeb Little (D) – (2006 – 60%)      
Paul Bussman (R) – (2010 – 58%)
Charles Bishop (R) - (2006 – 56%) – [Retired]
Greg Reed (R) – (2010 – )
Roger Bedford (D) - (2006 – unopposed)

Roger Bedford (D) - (2010 -  )
Paul Sanford (R) – (2009 – 57%)   Paul Sanford (R) – (2010 – 55%)
Lowell Barron (D) – (2006 – 56%) 
Shadrack McGill (R) – (2010 – 50.7%)
Hinton Mitchem (D) – (2006 – 53%) – [Retired] Clay Scofield (R) – (2010 – 69%)
Larry Means (D) – (2006 – unopposed) Phil Williams (R) – (2010 – 54%)
Jim Preuitt (R) – (2006 – 64%) – [Withdrew]
Jerry Fielding (D) – (2010 – 54%)
Del Marsh (R) - (2006 – unopposed)
Del Marsh (R) - (2010 – 64%)
Kim Benefield (D) - (2006 – 50%) – [Retired]

Gerald Dial (R) – (2010 – 50.4%)
Hank Erwin () – (2006 – unopposed) – [Ran for Lt. Gov]     Cam Ward (R) – (2010 – unopposed)
Steve French (R) – (2006 – unopposed) - [Lost primary]
Slade Blackwell (R) – (2010 – unopposed)
Jabo Waggoner (R) – (2006 – 78%) Jabo Waggoner (R) – (2010 – unopposed)
Scott Beason (R) – (2006 – unopposed)    
Scott Beason (R) – (2010 – 81%)

Rodger Smitherman (D) – (2006 – 81%)
Rodger Smitherman (D) – (2010 – unopposed)
Priscilla Dunn (D) – (2009 – unopposed)
Priscilla Dunn (D) – (2010 – unopposed)
Linda Coleman (D) – (2006 – 80%) Linda Coleman (D) – (2010 – unopposed)
Phil Poole (D) - (2006 – 69%)   Gerald Allen (R) – (2010 – 51%)
Marc Keahey (D) - (2009 – 58%) 
Marc Keahey (D) - (2010 – 55%)
Hank Sanders (D) – (2006 – 66%) Hank Sanders (D) – (2010 – unopposed)
Bobby Singleton (D) – (2006 – unopposed) Bobby Singleton (D) – (2010 – unopposed)
Larry Dixon (R) - (2006 – 74%) – [Retired]
Dick Brewbaker (R) – (2010 – 73%)
Quinton Ross (D) – (2006 – unopposed)
Quinton Ross (D) – (2010 – unopposed)
Ted Little (D) – (2006 – 61%)
Tom Whatley (R) – (2010 – 55%)
Myron Penn (D) – (2006 – unopposed) – [Retired]
Billy Beasley (D) – (2010 – )
Harri Anne Smith (R)(2006 – 75%)  Harri Anne Smith (I) – (2010 – 55%)
‘Walking’ Wendell Mitchell (D) – (2006 – 62%) 
Bryan Taylor (R) – (2010 – 57%)
Jimmy Holley (R) - (2006 – 56% as D)    
Jimmy Holley (R) - (2010 – unopposed)
Tripp Pittman (R) - (2007 – 87%) Tripp Pittman (R) - (2010 – unopposed)
Vivian Figures (D) – (2006 – 71%)
Vivian Figures (D) – (2010 – 73%)
Rusty Glover (R) - (2006 – unopposed) Rusty Glover (R) - (2010 – unopposed)
Ben Brooks (R) - (2006 – 51%) Ben Brooks (R) - (2010 – 59%)

Note: In these unofficial results, Gerald Dial has 18,670 votes and Greg Varner has 18,360 in SD 13. 

The State GOP Path to Senate Conquest

Come Wednesday morning the state GOP hopes to find itself with a Senate majority for the first time in 136 years. I’ve listened carefully enough in the right corners that I can tell you how the GOP believes that can happen.

In the 35 seat Senate, a caucus needs 18 votes to have a majority.

Five Republican incumbents are unopposed: Arthur Orr in SD 3, Jabo Waggoner in SD 16, Jimmy Holley in SD 31, Tripp Pittman in SD 32, and Rusty Glover in SD 34. Two more Republicans will be entering the Senate without any opposition: state Rep. Cam Ward in SD 14 (in the seat Hank Erwin vacated to run for Lt. Gov) and Slade Blackwell in SD 15 (in the seat last held by Republican Steven French).

The GOP feels quite good about its chances in six other races:

  • Paul Bussman in SD 4 (against incumbent Zeb Little),
  • Greg Reed in SD 5 (against Brett Wadsworth for the seat vacated by Republican Charles Bishop),
  • Clay Scofield in SD 9 (against Tim Mitchell for the seat vacated by retiring Democrat Hinton Mitchem),
  • Del Marsh in SD 12 (against Wallace Wyatt),
  • Scott Beason in SD 17 (against Tommy Hudson),
  • Dick Brewbaker in SD 25 (against Doug Smith for the open seat vacated by retiring Republican Larry Dixon).

Only two of those are GOP incumbents (Beason and Marsh) but Republicans have felt quite good about their chances in these elections.

The Republicans believe with only some less confidence than they have in the above races that they are likely to win two more races:

  • Bill Holtzclaw who is challenging Dem Tom Butler in SD 2, and
  • Incumbent Ben Brooks in SD 35 (against Scott Buzbee)

If you are keeping up, you know that these total 15 seats. If they win those 15, then the keys to winning the Senate lie in three district races that the GOP believes are clearly leaning their way:

  • SD 21 where state Rep. Gerald Allen is challenging Democratic incumbent Phil Poole,
  • SD 27 where former Dem Tom Whatley is challenging Democratic incumbent Ted Little, and
  • SD 30 where Bryan Taylor is challenging Democratic incumbent Walking Wendell Mitchell

Those three Democratic Senators have served a combined 76 years or nineteen terms in the state Senate, and the GOP believes they are poised to send them packing.

Victories in all of the above races would give the GOP 18 votes necessary to claim a Senate majority.

In addition, four other Republicans could provide either a larger majority or a cushion in case the Dems pull surprises in any of the above races. Incumbent Paul Sanford in SD 7 (fighting off a challenge from Jeff Enfinger), Phil Williams in SD 10 (against Dem incumbent Larry Means), Gerald Dial in SD 13 (against Greg Varner for Democrat Kim Benefield‘s old seat), and Danny Joyner in SD 22 (against incumbent Marc Keahey) are in races that the GOP believes are leaning their way.

Other races could go their way as well, but here is the path that the GOP sees to a Senate majority.

Related Articles:

Senate Sketches # 1194

Senate Sketches # 1194


Senator Hank Sanders


My Mamma used to say, “Son, some things are just beyond understanding.  They simply do not make sense.  So don’t try to make them make sense.”  I experienced such a “something” this week.

The Alabama New South Coalition (New South) Membership and Endorsement Convention was set for the following weekend.  Some of its leaders decided to hold a press conference to inform the public.  That was understandable.

Robert Avery as President and I as President Emeritus spoke at the press conference.  We said that New South would be endorsing candidates in all statewide and some district races at the Convention.  We highlighted the Governor’s race because it had a number of interesting issues: potential making of history; racial challenges; national implications; broad state impact; high media profile; and etc.  The press conference, however, brought a response that was beyond understanding.

In spite of media efforts to the contrary, we did not express any personal preferences for gubernatorial or other candidates.  We emphasized that we would support the New South endorsements regardless of what they were.  We did not indicate who might win the New South endorsement because that would taint the endorsement process and more consistently, we honestly did not know.  Statewide candidates are screened by the entire New South body and New South members are independent spirits.  We did say that Congressman Artur Davis’ vote against President Obama’s Health Care Reform Package had made the endorsement more competitive.  I thought that the press conference was understandable.  However, it evoked a response that was beyond understanding.

The press conference was scheduled for 9:45 that Wednesday morning.  In mid afternoon, an Associated Press reporter sent for me.  He said something to the effect that “Congressman Artur Davis has declined to be screened by Alabama New South, ADC, and the Jefferson County Citizens Coalition.”  I was surprised.  I read the press release.  I was shocked!  It did not just indicate a refusal to be screened for endorsement but attacked all three organizations with a key leader by name in each: Dr. Richard Arrington, former Mayor of Birmingham and a key founder of the Jefferson County Citizens Coalition; Dr. Joe Reed, a key founder and Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC); and me, Hank Sanders, a eky founder and President Emeritus of the Alabama New South Coalition.  The three most powerful Black political organizations in Alabama were being attacked by a Black candidate for Governor.  The response was beyond understanding.  It just did not make sense.

The response did not make sense because Congressman Artur Davis vigorously sought the New South endorsement for himself in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008.  He had been strongly seeking the endorsement in 2010.  I know this for a fact because he talked directly with me on various occasions.  He did not receive the endorsement in 2000 or for the Democratic Primary in 2002.  He did receive it for the general election in 2002 and for both the primaries and general elections of 2004, 2006, and 2008.  He vigorously sought the New South endorsement for President Barack Obama in 2008.  But now he was saying that he refused to be screened for an endorsement he had eagerly sought on eleven different occasions.  And he went further to attack these organizations.  Some things are just beyond understanding.

The response did not make sense because Congressman Davis had already damaged his standing in the African American community by repeatedly voting against President Obama’s Health Care Reform Package in spite of the fact that his district was in desperate need of the health care reform legislation.  He was the only African American Congressperson out of approximately 43 to vote against it.  Furthermore, the district he represents needs the benefits provided by this package more than any other congressional district in the U. S.  Some things are just beyond understanding.

The response did not make sense because Congressman Davis continues to seek endorsements from predominately White organizations while refusing to be screened by predominately Black organizations.  Some things are just beyond understanding.

The response did not make sense because African Americans make up nearly 50% of the vote in the Democratic Primary.  In addition, in the general election, he will need the very people he is shunning if by some chance he wins the Democratic Primary.  Some things are just beyond understanding.

On Saturday, the Alabama New South Coalition met at its convention as planned.  It resoundingly endorsed Agriculture and Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Alabama.  There was just one vote against the endorsement motion.  Sometimes our response to things beyond understanding is very understandable.

Now on to the Daily Diary.

Saturday – I was up early, walked my usual two miles, worked at my Selma office for a while, and still traveled some 50 miles to Demopolis by 9:30 a.m. to participate in a screening for Seventh Congressional District candidates.  All four Democratic Candidates appeared and acquitted themselves well with two demonstrating excellence.  I talked with various leaders before driving on to Eutaw where I spoke at the funeral of Ison Thomas, the deceased Sheriff of Greene County.  I talked with additional leaders before returning to Selma where I worked into the night.  Among those I talked with during this day were John Zippert and Dr. Carol P. Zippert, Co Publishers of the Greene County Democrat Newspaper; Demopolis City Councilman Thomas Moore; Greene County School Board Members Lester Brown and Elzora Fluker; former Greene County Probate Judge William McKinney Branch; former Greene County Commission Chair Chip Beeker; Chair of the New South 7th Congressional District Pat Henderson; and many citizens.

Sunday – I did Radio Sunday School with Dr. Margaret Hardy, Radio Education with Perry County School Superintendent John Heard, and Sunday Review.  I participated in Sunday School, attended Worship Service, and had Sunday Dinner with Wallace Community College Selma President Dr. James Mitchell.  I returned home to spend the remainder of the day, a rare development.  I did participate in an 8 p.m. conference call from home with several senators and others.

Monday – I walked my usual two miles, worked on Sketches, and made a 7:30 Breakfast meeting with Team Selma and a 10 a.m. meeting of the Lowndes County Commission in Hayneville.  I returned to Selma where I talked with numerous persons including Sarah Duncan of Greene County; Ralph Paige and Heather Gray of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives (the Federation); Joe Benison of Greene County; Frank Kummel of Lowndes County; Joe Jackson of Nashville, TN; Barbara Pitts of Auburn; Alabama Attorney General Candidate Michel Nicrosi; and Joyce Bigbee and Norris Green of the Legislative Fiscal Office (LFO).  I worked into the night on various matters including participating in an Alabama New South Coalition (New South) conference call.

Tuesday – I worked at my office on Sketches and other matters before going on to Montgomery for the following meetings starting at 9:30 a.m.:  Bingo Lobbyists; Senate Bi-Partisan Leadership; House and Senate Leadership; Senate Democratic Caucus; Alabama Legislative Black Caucus; and Senate Session.  I talked with the following:  Sally Howell and Lissa Tucker of the Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB); Sharon Calhoun of Montgomery; Senator Harri Ann Smith; Shelley Fearson of New South; Dr. Marquita Davis and Danielle Golston of the Alabama Department of Children’s Affairs; Leslie Sanders of Alabama Power Company; Senate President Pro Tem Rodger Smitherman; Senator Jabo Waggoner; Senator Larry Dixon; Senator Myron Penn; Sabra Barnett of the President Pro Tem Office; Ron Buford of the Alabama Power Company; Dr. Roberta Watts and Roger Watts of New South; former Governor’s Finance Director Jim Baker; Speaker of the House Seth Hammett; State School Superintendent Dr. Joe Morton; Lobbyist Suzi Edwards; Lobbyist Tom Coker; Lobbyist John Teague; Monroeville Mayor Mike Kennedy; Lobbyist Heather Coleman; Commissioner of Agriculture Ron Sparks; Senator Quinton Ross; Gene Murphy, formerly of LFO; Consultant Paul Hamrick; Senator Bobby Singleton; Senator Marc Keahey; Mike Martin of the Lieutenant Governor’s Office; Ginger Avery Buckner of the Alabama Association for Justice;  Jim Pratt of Birmingham; Anita Archie of the Business Council of Alabama; Leslie Sanders of Alabama Power Company; and Robert Turner of Bullock/Macon Counties.  I attended an event for 7 retiring senators that night before returning to Selma.

Wednesday – I worked on a press release and participated in a New South press conference at 9:15 a.m.  in Montgomery.  I talked with the following:  Reporters Phil Rawls, Eilene Jones, Dave White, and Kim Chandler; Senator Ted Little; Lobbyist Scott Mitchell with the Administrative Office of Courts; Lobbyist Mike Sullivan; Representative A. J. McCampbell; Media Consultant Rick Dent; Senator Linda Coleman; Senator Kim Benefield; Andrea Newmark of the U. S. Justice Department; Dr. Paul Hubbert of the Alabama Education Association AEA); Ted Taylor of Birmingham; Susan Kennedy of AEA: and Political Consultant Joe Perkins.  I went to dinner where I talked politics with Susan Kennedy, Sharon Wheeler, and Joe Perkins, key persons in the political arena.

Thursday – I talked with the following:  Gullah Gaines of West Blocton; Senator Lowell Barron; Education Budget Chair Representative Richard Lindsey; Dr. Joe Reed of ADC; Tuscaloosa Judge John England; Representative John Knight; Consultant Steve Raby; Jackie Ward of the Federation; Senate Majority Leader Zeb Little; Representative James Thomas; Yvette Patterson of the Lowndes County School System; and Cynthia Williams of Montgomery.  I went to Hayneville where I shared dinner with Lowndes County School leaders before returning to Selma.

Friday – I began writing Sketches, handled other matters, and talked with the following:  Selma Mayor George Evans; Selma School Superintendent Dr. Austin Obasohan; Margaret Fails of Dallas County; Alabama Attorney General Candidate James Anderson; Rev. Gregory Lucy of Dallas Community Action Agency; Candidate for State Treasurer Charlie Grimsley; former Governor of Alabama Don Siegelman; Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard; and Lloyd Maye and Betty Maye of Sumter County. I made remarks at the memorial services for Selma City Council President Dr. Geraldine Allen and visited Wallace Community College Selma to hear world renown author and historian Anthony Browder.  I traveled to Montgomery for the New South Convention where I attended its reception and talked with leaders from across Alabama.  I also met with several New South leaders after the reception.

EPILOGUE – I know my Mamma was right:  some things are just beyond understanding.  But we just cannot help trying to understand in spite of her admonition.  When something does not make sense, we try to make it make sense.

NOTE: Sen. Hank Sanders (D – Selma) has written weekly columns for papers in his legislative district for over twenty years. They are not available online from the rural, weekly papers which publish them. This column is provided by Sen. Sanders’ office to Doc’s Political Parlor for inclusion in the Daily Headlines.

Senate Sketches # 1192

Senate Sketches # 1192


Senator Hank Sanders


“Have you heard about the meeting with the FBI?” I had not heard.  However, when I heard, I was very disturbed.  But not for the usual reasons!  I was disturbed because this unleashed torrent of suspicions.

As I understand it, the FBI, two assistant U. S. attorneys for the Middle District of Alabama, and two attorneys from the Public Corruption Section of the U. S. Department of Justice, initiated the meeting.  They asked to meet with what they considered the three highest leaders from the Alabama State Senate and House of Representatives.  They chose Lieutenant Governor Jim Folsom, Jr., Majority Leader Zeb Little and Minority Leader Jabo Waggoner from the Alabama Senate.  Speaker Seth Hammett, Majority Leader Ken Guin and Minority Leader Mike Hubbard were chosen from the House.

These officials said that they were paying a courtesy call on House and Senate leaders out of respect.  They said they had “substantial evidence of corruption involving a bill before the Legislature.”  They did not specify the bill but we all assumed it was the bingo bill.  Neither did they specify the corruption.  The legislative leaders assured the Federal officials that they knew of no corruption whatsoever.

Senator Zeb Little was immediately suspicious and strongly raised his concerns during the meeting.  Others were also suspicious.  In all my 39 years of law practice, I have never heard of the Feds or other law enforcement agents giving anyone a courtesy call in an on-going investigation.  They always keep the investigation secret to snare additional suspects. That in and of itself was enough to make us suspicious. We also remembered that federal agents had not been courteous when they tried to serve subpoenas on House and Senate members in the Legislative Chambers a couple of years ago.  The suspicions grew like wild fire.

The fact that the so-called “courtesy call” came the next legislative day after the bingo bill passed the Alabama Senate added to the suspicions.  Since the House was about to commence considering the bill that further added to the suspicions.  To us, the “courtesy call” seemed designed to chill consideration of the bill in the House.  All of these things added fuel to the fires of suspicion.

Then we heard that the FBI and ABI had visited several senators before the bingo vote in the Senate.  None of the three had voted for the bill the first time around when it failed to pass.  However, their votes could decide whether the Constitutional Amendment passed or failed.  I understand that one senator was visited at 10 o’clock at night.  That appeared to be intimidation, not a courtesy call.  This all seemed designed to prevent these senators from voting for the bill.

Senator Bobby Denton was one of the senators.  He is just a good soul and really cares about the people of Alabama.  He is as honest as the day is long.  You cannot convince me that Bobby Denton would do anything illegal.  All these actions caused fires of suspicion to burn brighter.

All these activities came on the heels of the Governor’s brazen attempt to close down bingo operations all over Alabama.  These were done without search warrants or any lawful authority.  The Governor and his people were so determined that the law did not seem to matter.  Since hundreds of State Troopers were involved in these attempts to unlawfully close gaming facilities and the ABI and State Troopers are both part of the Department of Public Safety, this further fueled fires of suspicion.

In addition, Governor Riley has been extremely determined to stop the Constitutional Amendment on bingo from passing the Senate which would allow the people of Alabama to vote on whether or not they wanted bingo.  I understand that he even called senators on cell phones as the vote on the bingo bill was taking place on the Senate Floor.  This also fanned the fires of suspicion.

The suspicions were also fed by long time rumors that the Republican U. S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama is involved.  Two of the persons who made the “courtesy call” were from her office.  There have been all kinds of rumors for many months that she has remained in office by virtue of a special deal with an Alabama Congressional leader.

Senators did not appear to be scared but mad.  This was strongly perceived as blatant politics using law enforcement agencies.  Why were those considering whether to vote for the bingo bill the only ones investigated?  For years the Mississippi Native Americans (Indians) were obviously determined to stop any form of gaming in Alabama by hook or crook.  And they had poured money into Alabama in all kinds of ways.  Why wasn’t this investigated?

The Senate Democratic Caucus immediately issued a press release concerning this suspicious activity.  It also sent the U. S. Attorney General’s Office a letter seeking a full and thorough investigation of everything connected with bingo including this so-called “courtesy call.”

These suspicions are certainly affecting the legislative process in a profound way.  That’s the power of suspicions when something is out of the ordinary.

Now on to the Daily Diary.

Saturday – I arose early and headed for Summer Town, TN.  Four and a half hours later, I arrived to see my new grandbaby, Ayana.  I shopped for food and cooked my special dish, Umoja for the baby’s mother, Malika.  We talked a long time with the midwife, Pamela Hunt and her husband, Leslie about midwifery.  After 8 hours, I headed back to Selma.  During the trip, I talked with Dr. James Mitchell and Rev. Alvin Holmes by phone.

Sunday – I did Radio Sunday School with Dr. Margaret Hardy, Radio Education with Perry County School Superintendent John Heard, and Sunday Review.  I handled several matters, including editing Sketches, before traveling to Union Springs where I spoke at the Bullock County Voters League Annual Awards Banquet.  I also talked with the following:  Robert Turner of Macon/Bullock County; Representative Locy Baker; Representative Pebblin Warren; former Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford; former Lieutenant Governor George McMillan; and Felecia Jones of the Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF).  I returned to Selma.

Monday – I took my granddaughter to school and went by Z105.3 Radio Station.  I worked on Sketches and talked with the following:  Senator Vivian Figures; Linda Thrower of the Two Year Colleges; John Sullivan of Jackson, MS; Bishop Robert Pettus of Selma; Dr. Carol P. Zippert of Greene County; Margaret Bentley of the Black Belt Action Commission (BBAC); Stanley Braggs of Georgia; Ola Morrow of Maplesville; Judge Aubrey Ford; Senator Bobby Denton; Ginger Avery Buckner of the Alabama Association for Justice; Sharon Calhoun of Montgomery; and Joyce Bigbee of the Legislative Fiscal Office (LFO).  I worked into the night.

Tuesday – I had breakfast with several leaders before meeting with Greene County Businessman Luther “Nat” Winn.  I traveled to Montgomery where I did the following:  met with Senate leaders; met with House Speaker Seth Hammett; participated in a Senate Black Caucus meeting; participated in a Senate Session where we passed the Bingo Bill; and attended another Senate Democratic Caucus meeting.  I talked with the following:  Senator Roger Bedford; Senator Quinton Ross; Frank Kummel of Lowndes County; Lieutenant Governor Jim Folsom, Jr.; Senator Bobby Singleton; Senate President Pro Tem Rodger Smitherman; Senator Linda Coleman; Senator Priscilla Dunn; Senator Phil Poole; and Senator Vivian Davis Figures. I worked on the Education budget into the night with Representative Richard Lindsey and Joyce Bigbee, Norris Green, Frank Gitschner, and others of LFO.  I joined Senator Vivian Davis Figures and Lobbyists Sherry and Happy Fulford for a late dinner before returning to Selma.

Wednesday – I returned to Selma for the following meetings:  Finance and Taxation Education (F&TE) Committee; Finance and Taxation General Fund (F&TG) Committee; Judiciary Committee; Confirmations Committee; and others unofficially about the Education Budget.  I talked with the following:  Dr. Frieda Hill, Chancellor of Two Year Colleges; Senator Hinton Mitchem; Dr. Joe Reed of the Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC); Dr. Paul Hubbert of the Alabama Education Association (AEA); Lobbyist Tom Coker; Craig Pouncey of the State Department of Education; Dr. Helen McAlpine of Drake State Technical College; Anita Archie of the Business Council of Alabama; State School Superintendent Dr. Joe Morton; and Danielle Harper of Greene County whose father was killed in an automobile accident.  I returned to Selma where I went to see my grandbaby before resuming work.

Thursday – I traveled to Montgomery for a Senate Session, a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting, and a Senate Black Caucus meeting.  I joined in an extensive debate over a proposed Constitutional Amendment which attempts to nullify the Health Care legislation recently passed by the U. S. Congress.  I talked with the following:  Emily Diggs of Selma; a number of county commissioners from Senate District 23; several labor leaders; Senator Ted Little; Senator Larry Means; Rev. Franklin Fortier of Selma; Youlanda Curtis of Washington County; Mobile Mayor Sam Jones; Sabra Barnett of the Senate President Pro Tem Office; Media Consultant Rick Dent; Lobbyist John Teague; Monroe Probate Judge Greg Norris; Dave White of the Birmingham News; Senator Lowell Barron; Senator Roger Bedford; Senate Majority Leader Zeb Little; Dorothy Hulett of Greene County; Phil Fraas of Washington, D. C.; and Dr. Daniel Boyd and Yvette Patterson of the Lowndes County School System.  I met with Senate Democratic leaders about a visit from the FBI, Assistant U. S. Attorney, and persons from the U. S. Justice Department.  We had a second Democratic Caucus meeting and other meetings.

Friday – I began writing Sketches and talked with the following:  Donald Stewart of Anniston; Alesia Summerville of Alabama Power Company; Representative Richard Lindsey; Lester Brown of Greene County; and Josh Hayes of Tuscaloosa.  I tried to participate in a conference call on Black Farmers but could not get through.  I worked on the budget with Representative Lindsey, Joyce Bigbee, and others.  I worked deep into the night.

EPILOGUE- It is bad for anyone to break the law.  But it is much worse for those enforcing the law to break the law.  Even a hint of such must be met head on.  The danger is just too great.

NOTE: Sen. Hank Sanders (D – Selma) has written weekly columns for papers in his legislative district for over twenty years. They are not available online from the rural, weekly papers which publish them. This column is provided by Sen. Sanders’ office to Doc’s Political Parlor for inclusion in the Daily Headlines.

Senate Sketches # 1188

Senate Sketches # 1188


Senator Hank Sanders


Bingo came to a head this week – sort of.  It has been a general boil on the body of Alabama for months.  It has been a specific boil on both bodies of the Alabama Legislature this entire session.  But the bingo boil came to a head this week – sort of.

The bingo bills encountered rough going from the very start.  They were written by the most powerful bingo operators.  Every provision enlarged the more powerful and diminished the less powerful.  But all the bingo people could not agree on the proposed bill.  Yes, the bingo boil came to a head this week – sort of.

Some sixteen (16) Alabama  counties have Constitutional Amendments permitting bingo.  Some counties have more than one Constitutional Amendment.  Every amendment is different.  A bunch of different Constitutional Amendments on this controversial subject is a root cause of the bingo boil.

The absence of statewide regulation of bingo contributes greatly to this enlarged boil.  Every state with widespread bingo has a statewide commission to regulate bingo except Alabama.  Without a statewide commission, the boil will continue to grow, becoming ever more painful.  But the bingo boil came to a head this week – sort of.

Alabama does not tax bingo on either a state and/or local level.  Every state taxes widespread bingo except Alabama.  This failure feeds the bingo boil.  A few operators grow ever more wealthy and powerful while every other Alabama business is taxed.  The boil is therefore empowered.  But the bingo boil came to a head this week – sort of.

Then there is Governor Bob Riley.  He has gone bonkers over bingo.  He created an illegal task force to cut out all bingo whether legal or illegal.  Even though the task force was illegal, he first tried to close down bingo in a semi- legal way.  He secured a search warrant for bingo in Lowndes County.  The case went all the way to the Alabama Supreme Court.  When he could not secure search warrants in other counties, he decided to proceed without search warrants.  That was unlawful and cut out good flesh while stimulating the bingo boil.  But bingo came to a head this week – sort of.

Anyway, enough of the background.  Let’s see how bingo came to a head.  Two bingo bills came before the Alabama State Senate this week.  The pressures from the powerful bingo operators to vote for the bingo bills were great.  The pressures from Governor Riley and his forces to vote against the bingo bills were great.  Each bill needed a 3/5 vote of the entire Senate just to be considered.  That’s 21 of 35 senators and that’s always difficult on a controversial issue.

I strongly disagreed with how these bills were structured.  I had been trying for weeks to make the bills more inclusive.  However, the bingo bosses would not budge.   Still, I voted for the BIR (Budget Isolation Resolution) so that the Constitutional Amendment would be in a position to be debated and amended.  However, I did not intend to vote for the bill unless it was changed substantially.  But the bill never got to that point.

Most Democrats voted to allow the bill to be debated.  Most Republicans voted to keep the bill from being debated.  Four Democrats voted against the bill and one did not vote.  Two Republicans voted for the bill.  In the end, the bill received 18 votes, falling 3 short of the 21 required.  Yes, the bingo boil came to a head last week – sort of.

Let me say that bingo is not dead.  As I said in a press conference, that bingo may be in the hospital, even in the intensive care unit, but it is not dead.  All the underlying root causes for the bingo boil continue to exist.  We must lance the boil or do something else to bring bingo to a real head.

I have introduced two pieces of legislation that I think will help.  On February 17, I introduced a simple measure providing for a statewide bingo commission to overlay all the Constitutional Amendments and resolve the legal issue.  It would go into effect immediately.  Those that are legal would be free to operate and those that are illegal would be shut down.  Some of the crazy politics would be brought to an end.

The day after the bingo bills failed, I introduced a second proposal to let folk vote just on the question of bingo.  There are no provisions for the big bingo bosses or anyone else.  The people will vote “yes” or “no” just on the question of whether bingo should be legal.  If they vote yes, additional laws would be passed to regulate and tax it.

I believe that these two pieces of legislation would really bring the bingo boil to a full head.  However, if someone else has different ideas that work better, I will support those.  I just know the bingo boil must be brought to a full head, not sort of.

Now on to the Daily Diary.

Saturday – I handled more grandfather duties before traveling to Washington County for the funeral of Rev. George Curtis.  I talked with Inez Curtis, Youlanda Curtis, and others before returning to Selma to handle more grandfather duties.  I also talked about bingo with Senator Roger Bedford, Lester Brown of Greene County, and others.

Sunday – I did Radio Sunday School with Dr. Margaret Hardy and Radio Education with Perry County School Superintendent John Heard.  I traveled to Greenville to speak at the Butler Chapel AMEZ Church for Black History Month.  I talked with the following:  Rev. Harold O. Simpson, Rev. Lessie Simpson, Fred Bennett, Robert Bennett, Gertrude Fails, and others of Butler County; Lowndes County Commissioner Marzette Thomas; Senate Majority Leader Zeb Little; Judge John England of Tuscaloosa; Senator Bobby Denton; Elzora Fluker of Greene County; and Lobbyists John Teague and Don Gilbert about bingo.  I shared discussions over dinner with Dr.  Fannie McKenzie and Bobby McKenzie.  I participated in a conference call about bingo and worked almost until midnight.

Monday – I participated in several conference calls about bingo and other matters.  I also talked with the following:  Donald Stewart of Anniston; Lowndes County School Superintendent Dr. Daniel Boyd; Jaunda Maxwell of Selma; Rev. Tony Scott of Brown Chapel Church; Ted Taylor of Birmingham; Heather Gray of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives (the Federation); Ethel Washington of Selma; and Lowndes County Commission Chair Charlie King.  I traveled to Wilcox County to participate in a Commemorative Mass Meeting as part of the National Voting Rights Celebration.  I returned to Selma after I talked with Sheryl Threadgill Matthews, Arzula Johnson, Darryl Perryman, and others.

Tuesday – I was in Montgomery by 8 a.m. where I participated in numerous meetings including a Senate Session, a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting, and other meetings involving bingo.  I talked with the following:  Dr. Stephen Maddox of Montgomery; Luther “Nat’ Winn of Greenetrack; Agriculture and Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks; Dr. Ed Bridges of Archives and History; Phil Fraas of Washington, D. C.; Lobbyist Joe Fine; Ralph Paige of the Federation; Senator Lowell Barron; Senator Jabo Waggoner; Rebecca Scott of Montgomery; Joyce Bigbee, Norris Green, and Kelly Butler of the Legislative Fiscal Office (LFO); and Senator Vivian Davis Figures.  I spent much time struggling with bingo issues.  I also talked with Reporter Phil Rawls of the Associated Press.

Wednesday – I continued with early morning grandfather duties but still made it to Montgomery by 8 a.m.  I chaired an Economic Expansion and Trade (EET) Committee meeting and talked with many including the following:  State School Superintendent Dr. Joe Morton and Assistant Superintendent Craig Pouncey; Sharon Calhoun of Montgomery; Anita Archie of the Business Council of Alabama; Senator Linda Coleman; and Lowndes County Administrator Jackie Thomas. I met with Alabama and Auburn University leaders about the budget.  We voted on the bingo bill and talked with the media about bingo.  I worked into the night on various matters.

Thursday – I met with Representative Richard Lindsey, Dr. Richard Holland, and others about the Education Budget.  I spoke at a Higher Education Rally and introduced a second bingo bill.  I talked with the following:  Senator Tom Butler; Senator Phil Poole; Senator Bobby Denton; Ola Morrow of Maplesville; Perry County School Superintendent John Heard; Maria Alexander of Montgomery; Rev. Jesse Jackson who was in Montgomery; Senator Bobby Singleton; Senator Quinton Ross; Dickie Whittaker of the Alabama Medical Association; Lobbyist Steve Windom; Senator Arthur Orr; Dave White of the Birmingham News; and Catrena Carter of Birmingham.  I participated in a press conference concerning bingo.  I worked on the Education Budget with Representative Richard Lindsey, Joyce Bigbee, Norris Green, and Frank Gitschner. I returned to Selma for the traditional Annual Mass Meeting, the kick-off for the Bridge Crossing Jubilee.  I made remarks, talked with many leaders from across the country, and went to dinner with a large group after the Mass Meeting.  I talked with the following:  Leonard and Gladys Dunnston of North Carolina; Dr. Esther Hyatt of New York; Dr. James Mitchell of Wallace Community College Selma (WCCS); Franklin Fortier and Malika Fortier of Selma; Sam Walker of Selma; and Selma Mayor George Evens.

Friday – I began writing Sketches and talked with the following:  Mary Hill of Monroe County; Lobbyist William “Noopie” Cosby; Rita Lett of WCCS; Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb; and Felecia Thurman of WCCS.  I went to various Jubilee events.  I shared lunch with John Zippert and Dr. Carol P. Zippert where we discussed legislative and other matters.  I went to the Sue Bell Cobb Induction into the Women’s Hall of Fame where I presented her.  That night I was called at the last minute to come and serve as a lawyer in the Jubilee Mock Trial on miseducation.  I then went to the Public Conversation Program at WCCS and ended the day with a late night dinner at the St. James Hotel.

EPILOGUE – Sometimes things happen that seem so bad.  Then better opportunities spring forth.  Sometimes something happens that seems so good.  Then it turns out bad.  We just never know.

NOTE: Sen. Hank Sanders (D – Selma) has written weekly columns for papers in his legislative district for over twenty years. They are not available online from the rural, weekly papers which publish them. This column is provided by Sen. Sanders’ office to Doc’s Political Parlor for inclusion in the Daily Headlines.

Gerald Dial to Run as Republican for Old Seat

Gerald DialSen. Jabo Waggoner (R – Birmingham) announced to a crowd at a Tuscaloosa fundraiser earlier this month that former state Senator Gerald Dial will run as a Republican for the Senate District 13 seat that he held six terms as a Democrat.

Dial as a Democrat became too rebellious for the likes of Democratic Sen. Lowell Barron who helped Kim Benefield defeat Dial in the 2006 Democratic primary. Benefield went on to win the seat in the general election.

Dial crossed party lines that campaign season to cut a TV commercial for Republican Governor Bob Riley’s re-election campaign and later was appointed by Riley to head a new Rural Alabama Action Commission.

Dial has already indicated that his days as a Democrat are behind him, telling the Political Parlor this summer, “If I run for any office, Senate, President, anything for the rest of my political life, it will be as a Republican.”

Don’t look for Dial’s announcement soon. He has already suggested (though laughingly) that the governor may give him the Bill Johnson treatment and expect him to resign from his post if/when he becomes a candidate.

Related Articles:

Directory Test 2


State Senate Election Directory
Senate District 1Lean Dem
Bobby Denton (D) - (2006 – 64%) – [OPEN SEAT]
Jimmy Gardiner (D) - Colbert County Commissioner    
    Tammy Irons (D)
 - State Rep

    Mike Suttle (D) – ex Circuit Judge
    Sreve Pierce (D/R) – ex Florence City Councilman
    Lynn Greer (R)- Former State Rep 
    Quentin Hanson (R) – Businessman
Senate District 2Likely Dem
Tom Butler (D) - (2006 – 60%)

Senate District 3 Safe GOP
Arthur Orr (R) - (2006 – 62%)

Senate District 4 Lean Dem
Zeb Little (D) - (2006 – 60%)
     Paul Bussman (R) – Dentist
  Senate District 5 - Likely GOP

  Charles Bishop (R) - (2006 – 56%)
     Bob Wilson Jr (D) -  Ex-State Sen
     Trent McCluskey (D)
Senate District 6Likely Dem

Roger Bedford (D) - (2006 – 100%) -  [POTENTIAL RETIREMENT] 
     Johnny Mack Morrow (D) - State Rep
     Jim Spearman (D) - State Dem Party Exec Dir

Senate District 7 – Toss Up
     Laura Hall (D) - State Rep
Paul Sanford
(R) - Restarateur
Senate District 8 Likely Dem
Lowell Barron (D) - (2006 – 56%)

Senate District 9 Lean Dem
Hinton Mitchem (D) - (2006 – 53%)

Senate District 10 Safe Dem
Larry Means (D) - (2006 – 100%)
     Craig Ford (D) - State Rep   
Senate District 11 Likely Dem

Jim Preuitt (D) - (2006 – 64%)
      Ronald Johnson (R) – State Rep

Senate District 12 Safe GOP
Del Marsh (R) - (2006 – 100%)
Senate District 13 Toss Up

Kim Benefield (D) - (2006 – 50%)
     Gerald Dial (R) – Ex State Sen
Senate District 14 Safe GOP

Steve French (R) - (2006 – 100%)

Senate District 15 Safe GOP

Jabo Waggoner (R) - (2006 – 78%)


Senate District 16 Safe GOP

Hank Erwin (R) - (2006 – 100%) – [OPEN SEAT] 
     Cam Ward (R) – State Rep
Senate District 17 Safe GOP

Scott Beason (R) - (2006 – 100%)

Senate District 18 Safe Dem

Rodger Smitherman (D) - (2006 – 81%)
     Fred Horn (D) – Ex State Sen

Senate District 19 – Open Safe Dem

     Louise Alexander (D) – Bessemer city councillwoman
Merika Coleman (D) – State Rep
Priscilla Dunn (D) – State Rep
     Eric Major (D) – Ex State Rep
     Lawrence McAdory (D) – Ex Rep
     Nathan Reed (D)
     Rod Scott (D) – State Rep
Madilyn Southern (D)    

Senate District 20 Safe Dem

Linda Coleman (D) - (2006 – 80%)

Senate District 21 Lean Dem

Phil Poole (D) - (2006 – 69%)
     Gerald Allen (R) – State Rep

Senate District 22 – OpenLean Dem 
Marc Keahey (D) - State Rep
Greg Albritton (R) – Ex State Rep 
Senate District 23 Lean Dem
Hank Sanders (D) - (2006 – 66%)
Senate District 24 Safe Dem
Bobby Singleton (D) - (2006 – 100%)
Senate District 25 - Safe GOP
Larry Dixon (R) - (2006 – 74%) – [POTENTIAL RETIREMENT]
     Dick Brewbaker (R) – Ex State Rep
     Barry Mask (R) – State Rep
Senate District 26 Safe Dem
Quinton Ross (D) - (2006 – 100%)
Senate District 27Likely Dem
Ted Little (D) - (2006 – 61%)
Senate District 28 Safe Dem
Myron Penn (D) - (2006 – 100%)
Senate District 29 Safe GOP
Harri Anne Smith (R) - (2006 – 75%)
Senate District 30 Likely Dem
Wendell Mitchell (D) - (2006 – 62%)

Senate District 31 Likely GOP
Jimmy Holley (R) - (2006 – 56%)

      Terry Spicer (D) – State Rep

Senate District 32 Safe GOP
Tripp Pittman (R) - (2007 – 87%)

Senate District 33 Safe Dem
Vivian Figures (D) - (2006 – 71%)

Senate District 34 Safe GOP
Rusty Glover (R) - (2006 – 100%)

Senate District 35 Lean GOP
Ben Brooks (R) - (2006 – 51%)
     Gary Tanner (D) – Ex State Sen


Senate Sketches # 1143

NOTE: Sen. Hank Sanders has written weekly columns for papers in his legislative district for over twenty years. They are not available online from the rural, weekly papers which publish them. The column below is provided by Sen. Sanders’ office for inclusion in the Daily Headlines.

Senate Sketches # 1143


Senator Hank Sanders


My spirits were up, way up. The challenges facing me that Tuesday were great but my spirits were up. I had willed my spirits up in preparation for this moment.

The greatest challenge facing me and other senators was passage of the $6 billion Education Budget on the Senate Floor. I knew specifically of one major problem.  I also knew other unseen problems were lurking. Still, my spirits were high. I am at my best in meeting difficult challenges when my spirits are high.

I had done all I could to make things go well on this day. I had talked with every senator. The House Education Budget Chair and I had reconciled differences between major interest groups. We had made private briefing available to the Governor’s people, the State Superintendent of Education, and the Alabama Education Association (AEA). Everyone with a known problem had been communicated with. Many teachers, retired teachers, and superintendents were contacting their senators in support of the budget.

One senator insisted on something that simply could not be done since we were cutting $400 – $500 million from the previous year’s budget. I met with him and others to discuss the matter even though we had already discussed it once.

That morning, I discussed passage of the budget in a meeting of Republican and Democratic Senate leaders. I was assured there would be no filibuster. Senators, however, would ask questions important to them. And that’s the way it should be. No filibuster by Republicans was good news. My spirits continued to ride high.

Before the Senate Session, I met with Finance and Taxation Education Committee members in a special meeting to review the substitute education budget in. We could not officially act on it because the budget bill had already been reported from the Committee. That meeting went very well. My spirits continued on the same high plane.

I expected the budget and related bills to be brought up right after the Senate Session commenced. Instead, other items were brought up by individual Senators. There was an attitude of live and let live. I decided to let live so I could live. So the occasion to consider the budget came in due time.

I gave an overview of the budget to the entire Senate. I knew that several senators intended to offer Amendments. I was prepared and organized. We voted down each Amendment.  Two other senators withdrew Amendments after discussion. The budget appeared on the verge of final passage. Then things changed. 

I noticed that questions were being asked by several Republican senators in a different rhythm. In my mind, that meant delay. It soon became apparent that a filibuster was in progress. It had happened in spite of extensive effort, in spite of commitments. It is just that way sometimes. But I kept my spirits up.

After repeated inquiries, I determined that the Governor had asked one key Republican leader to hold up passage of the education budget. We could not determine why the Governor wanted to delay the budget. It would be easier to deal with if we knew why. I knew that high spirits would not only help me but the entire Senate body.  So I willed my spirits to remain high in spite of these developments.

After several hours, the Rules Committee Chair, the Senate Majority Leader, and I decided on cloture (to cut off debate). However, we discovered that we did not have quite enough Democratic Senators to cloture the education budget.  If we did not cloture, the education budget would not pass. The Governor was demanding that we wait at least until Thursday, the next legislative day, to pass the budget. We were already late in the budget process. If we did not pass the budget soon, notices of termination would be mailed out by local school boards. That’s bad for everybody.   My spirits stayed high.

I learned that most Republicans wanted to vote on the education budget that day. Only one was truly filibustering. However, other Republicans did not want to vote cloture on one of their own. The Rules Committee Chair, the Senate Majority Leader, and I consulted and devised a plan.

I secured the podium and commenced filibustering the education budget I was sponsoring. That way, cloture would be voted on me, not a Republican. Senate members laughed heartily about me falling on the “sword of cloture” for the team. Republicans and Democrats gladly voted cloture. As far as I know, it was the first time the chair of a budget committee had ever been clotured. I know it was the first time for me. The vote was 28-3.

The education budget passed shortly thereafter. The vote was 32-0. We had made it through another moment of challenge. Our spirits were very high.

Now on to the Daily Diary.

Saturday – I took several hours for myself from about 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. I mostly read and exercised. Then I went to my office. I worked all day on various matters. I did spend some time participating in the Family Renaissance Program and a Black History Presentation at the Slavery Museum. I returned to the office and worked into the night on the Education Budget, Sketches, and other matters. 

Sunday – I did Radio Sunday School with Dr. Margaret Hardy, Radio Education with Perry County School Superintendent John Heard, and Sunday Review. I participated in Sunday School and attended Church.   I talked with the following: Senator Jabo Waggoner; Senator Larry Dixon; Senator Bobby Denton; Senator Rusty Glover; Senator Phil Poole; Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Williams of Monroeville; and Dr. Paul Hubbert of the Alabama Education Association (AEA). I discussed issues related to the education budget over Sunday Dinner with Dallas County School Superintendent Dr. Fannie McKenzie and her husband, Bobby. I worked into the night.

Monday – I handled many matters including editing Sketches. I talked with the following: Joyce Bigbee and Norris Green of the Legislative Fiscal Office (LFO); Lowndes County Administrator Jackie Thomas; Tana Shealey of WVAS Radio Station; Ron Jones of the Department of Public Examiners; House Speaker Seth Hammett; Lindy Beale of the Retirements Systems of Alabama; Bill Jones of the University of Alabama; Representative Richard Lindsey; State School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Morton; Dr. Paul Hubbert of AEA; and Sharon Wheeler of Congressman Parker Griffith’s Office. I traveled to Eutaw where I talked with Greene County School Board Members Leo Branch, Lester Brown and Elzora Fluker. I returned to Selma and worked into the night.

Tuesday – I finished Sketches and handled other matters.   Still, I made the 50 miles to Montgomery by 9:00 a.m. for the following meetings: conference with Senator Hank Erwin, Jr.; conference with Senator Jim Preuitt, Lobbyist Tom Coker and AEA leader Amy Marlowe; Democratic and Republican leaders; conference with House Speaker Seth Hammett and Senate President Pro Tem Rodger Smitherman; Senate Democratic Caucus; Finance and Taxation Education (F&TE) Committee; and Senate Session where we passed the education budget. I talked with many leaders including Senate Majority Leader Zeb Little and Rules Committee Chair Lowell Barron. I met individually with Dr. Hubbert of AEA and many groups of superintendents, teachers, and retired teachers.  We worked into the night in the Senate Session. I returned to Selma.

Wednesday – I was in Montgomery before 8:00 a.m. where I met with Dr. Paul Hubbert and participated in the following meetings: Education Committee; F&TE Committee; Judiciary Committee; and Budget Committee Chairs. I talked with the following: Governor Bob Riley; Congressman Artur Davis’ Office; Representative Richard Lindsey; Alabama Supreme Court Justice Sue Bell Cobb; Senator Arthur Orr; and many school superintendents and citizens. I returned to Selma.

Thursday – I was again in Montgomery by 8:00 a.m. I met with several persons including the following: Lobbyist John Teague; Senator Jim Preuitt; Lobbyist Tom Coker; Scott McMillan of the Governor’s Office; Senator Kim Benefield; Senator Harri Anne Smith; Senator Quinton Ross; Senator Lowell Barron; Larry Raby of the Legislative Reference Service (LRS): Alphonso Morton of Greene County; Dr. Carol P. Zippert of Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC); Governor Bob Riley; Deborah Kennedy of LFO; Mary Ponds of the Alabama Association of County Commissioners; and Shelley Fearson of ANSC. I participated in the Commerce, Transportation and Utilities Committee meeting and the Revolving Loan Fund Legislative Oversight Committee meeting. I passed the remainder of the budget related bills as well as several local bills. I met with many citizens, lobbyists, and governmental leaders before returning to Selma.

Friday – I did the Faya’s Fire Radio Program and worked on Sketches.  I talked with the following: David Frantz of Washington, D. C.; John Zippert of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives (the Federation); Dr. Portia Shields of Concordia College; Representative Richard Lindsey; and Joyce Bigbee and Frank Gitchsner of LFO. I worked into the night.

EPILOGUE- The spirit in which we approach things makes a powerful difference. The day after the budget passed, one lobbyist said, “There was something different about your voice during the debate on the budget. Several other persons noticed and mentioned it to me.” The lobbyist thought it was the absence of pain. I explained that I had prepared my spirits and it manifested itself in everything I did and said.

Time to pass a Senate Bill.

On Tuesday Representative Paul DeMarco’s bill will be first on the calender. His bill is in position to be substituted with the Senate bill sponsored by Senator Jabo Waggoner. This bill would regulate the hauling of steel coils on Alabama highways. In recent years there have been substantial problems with trucks dropping steel coils on the interstate highways.

We had hoped to pass this bill last week, but because of delays in the Senate there was substantial house opposition to begin passing Senate bills. On Thursday the Senate did pass a house bill.

I’m sure it sounds petty to hold senate bills until house bills are passed. However, this seems to be the only way to encourage senate action.

I do believe the vast majority of senators want to have productive session this year. I am encouraged by their progress thus far.

On with the calendar.

Representative DeMarco:
Commercial motor vehicles, trucks carrying metal coils, criminal penalties for failure to comply with federal regulations and for violations where metal coils fall off onto public roads, Public Safety Department to provide driver training standards and certification, Metal Coil Securement Act, Secs. 32-9A-2, 32-9A-4 am’d.; Act 2008-336, 2008 Reg. Sess. am’d.

Representative Collier:
Eluding a law enforcement officer, crime established, penalties, Officer Keith E. Houts Act, Sec. 32-5A-193 repealed

Representative Keahey:
County law libraries, expenditure of funds for maintenance and all activities related to effective administration of justice, sale or exchange of property authorized, circuit judge to oversee operation

Representative Johnson:
Engineers and Land Surveyors, State Board of Licensure for Professional, licensure requirements, members increased, retroactive effect, Secs. 34-11-4, 34-11-7, 34-11-30 am’d.

Representative Page:
Leasing, heavy equipment, recovery fee on gross receipts, lessor to use to pay personal property tax of taxing jurisdictions, exceptions

Representative Gipson:
Prisoners, immediate notification of media upon escape from prison, jail, or youth detention center

Representative Fite:
Jacksonville State University Police Department, employment of police officers, duties, arrest powers, offenders taken to municipal or district court, Sec. 16-52-12.1 added; Sec. 16-52-12 am’d.

Representative Black:
Counties, bond financing agreements, county commission to complete a bond financing review form, acknowledgment of certain factors, Examiners of Public Accounts to prepare form, filing and retention with

Representative McLaughlin:
Domestic violence, protection orders, defined, penalties increased, lack of knowledge of order as a defense eliminated, Domestic Violence Protection Order Enforcement Act, Secs. 30-5A-1, 30-5A-2, 30-5A-4 am’d.; Sec. 30-5A-3 amended and renumbered as 13A-6-150

Representative McLaughlin:
Protection From Abuse Act, issuance and procedures for issuance of protection orders relating to domestic violence and abuse, plaintiffs further defined according to relationships with defendant, jurisdiction, relationship to uniform acts, petitions, Protection Order Registry at Administrative Office of Courts, criminal penalties repealed, Secs. 30-5-1, 30-5-2, 30-5-3, 30-5-4, 30-5-5, 30-5-6, 30-5-7, 30-5-8 am’d.; Secs. 30-5-9, 30-5-10 repealed

Representative McClammy:
Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors, Board of, expanded and renamed the Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Contractors, State Board of, to include regulation of refrigeration contractors, display of certification numbers required, apprentice registration and board fees, continuing education programs, exam requirements and exemptions, performance bonds, fines, subject to Sunset Law, Secs. 34-31-18, 34-31-19, 34-31-20, 34-31-24, 34-31-25, 34-31-26, 34-31-28, 34-31-29, 34-31-30, 34-31-32, 34-31-35 am’d.; Act 2008-130, 2008 Reg. Sess. am’d.

More on Yesterday’s Senate Filibuster

Filibustering man at speaker's podiumDana Beyerle of the Times Montgomery Bureau on yesterday’s filibuster in the Senate by Sen. Phil Poole (D – Moundville):

During Poole’s Tuesday absence from the session, Sen. Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, was granted permission to bring a bill up for consideration out of order. A bill cannot be brought up out of order if just one senator objects.

Poole previously killed the bill in a dispute with a House member and with Gov. Bob Riley. Waggoner’s bill regulates trucks hauling coils of steel from Birmingham mills.

Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, said he believes Poole’s filibuster [yesterday] was in reaction to the steel coil bill that goes to the House.

I wondered why Waggoner asked to bring his bill up for consideration out of order on Tuesday. I did not know at the time that Poole was absent.

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Senate Storm Watch

LightningState Senators are on a storm watch today. Sen. Phil Poole (D – Moundville) is said to be unhappy that a bill from Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R – Birmingham) which would regulate the transportation of steel coils over state highways passed the Senate 27-0 on Tuesday. Poole has particularly targeted this bill for defeat in the past but was not present on Tuesday. Senators are on alert for the return of the one-man Philibuster.

Update: Sen. Poole started reading an ethics complaint, he indicated he wouldn’t let up, and the Senate adjourned at about 12:45 until Tuesday.

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State Senate Notes

A few notes to wrap up about the change in the Senate President pro tem…

Senate SealSteve French (R – Birmingham) nominated Jabo Waggoner (R – Birmingham) for Senate President pro tem in opposition to Rodger Smitherman (D – Birmingham). French told the Political Parlor, “We got what we wanted; a recorded vote between two stark and contrasting choices: one a conservative with a record of reaching across the aisle in a bipartisan manner; the other a strong unabashed liberal who used his committee chair to both kill conservative legislation and to advance his liberal agenda (registering ammunition as a single example but with plenty others that could be cited).” He went on to add, “I am proud for Rodger and his family. He has achieved quite a lot. I believe him when he says he will make an effort to reach out to the Republicans from time to time.”

Also, note that in the game of musical chairs, when Hinton Mitchem stepped down from the pro tem spot, he did assume the Chairmanship of the Confirmations Committee. Myron Penn (D – Union Springs) gave that up and took the Judiciary Chairmanship that Smitherman gave up when he became the pro tem. Mitchem did not want to go on the Judiciary Committee, and working this out was important to the whole deal.

In the meantime, the Senate is “a boiling pressure pot” under intense pressure to start moving things after two years of inactivity. “There is a helluva lot of pressure from the financial base” to get things going, one Goat Hill veteran told me.

Legislative Dispatch

A Look from the Rearview Mirror

This Thursday will mark the last day of the legislative Session.  For some, it was a Session that seemed would never end.  For others, it was one that ended much too quickly.  It may be early, yet, to write an obit on this Session, but as we approach the finish line, some perspective may be in order.


Putting Students First

As you know, a very important piece of legislation will be presented for our consideration in the House tomorrow in Montgomery – Senate Bill 310 – the “Students First” tenure and fair dismissal reform bill. Like me, many House members have been inundated with phone calls and emails from opponents of this bill, and some have been [...]

Legislative Transparency

There are a lot of issues to debate before we begin the final days of this session. In fact, I am quite certain there will be some comments on this post debating many of them. Before we get into the last seven day of the session I wanted to bring up a topic that [...]

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