Senate Sketches # 1228
Senator Hank Sanders
When we dig a hole for someone else, we may as well dig two for we will surely fall in the first one we dug. I heard these words from my mama and other wise old folks. There was such wisdom in the saying I drew on it during my turn at the podium of an extended debate on Senate Bill 2, which stripped AEA (Alabama Education Association) and several other employee organizations of effective membership privileges.
We had fought hard in the Senate to kill Senate Bill 2 on Friday. After four plus hours, the Republicans cut off debate and passed the bill. The Alabama House of Representatives then fought valiantly for many more hours starting Tuesday but at about 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning, the Republicans cut off debate and passed the bill by three votes. Governor Bob Riley and others leading these efforts dug a hole for AEA and other employee organizations.
These dug holes, whether literal or figurative, are deep so one cannot reach the top to grab a hold in order to get out. The walls of the dug holes are straight up and down so those in the hole cannot get a hand or foot hold to climb out. It is dug in a way to keep one down in the hole no matter what.
When we dig a hole for someone else, we are trying to kill them or severely hurt them at the least. When we dig such a hole, we are being intentionally hurtful and malicious. It is not about helping one self at the expense of others but about punishment for punishment sake. Senate Bill 2 was about digging a hole for the Alabama Education Association, Alabama State Employees Association, Alabama State Troopers Association and other employee organizations. Other membership organizations such as ALFA Insurance were excluded from the requirement of the bill.
Republicans now have a super majority in the Alabama Legislature. In the House they have 66 Republicans to 39 Democrats. In the Senate they have 22 Republicans and 12 Democrats with one independent. There was no power increasing reasons to strip AEA and other employee organizations of their capacity to effectively serve their members. They already have everything. It is just digging a hole. When we dig a hole for someone else, we may as well dig two, for we will surely fall in the first one.
Republicans have a super majority (8 of 9 positions) on the Alabama Supreme Court. Republicans hold all but two of the 28 statewide positions in Alabama. Stripping AEA members of the capacity to have their voluntary dues deducted from their paychecks and/or make donations to political entities of their choice is not about increasing political power for they have most everything. It’s about digging a hole for someone else.
Republicans have elected every Governor in Alabama since 1982 except one. The current Governor won by a margin of 62-38 percent. Republicans hold eight of nine elected federal positions (two U. S. Senators and seven U. S. Representatives). Stripping these organizations of membership opportunities is not about increasing their power or position, but about digging a hole for someone else.
It is my understanding that about a third of AEA’s membership is Republican. Many of its members, both Republicans and Democrats, voted for many of the legislators who voted to strip them of their membership opportunities in the twists and turns of this hole digging. These mean spirited actions will come back to haunt them for AEA will grow stronger from the fertilizer wrought by the hole digging.. As the old folk say, “Mark my words.”
Others will also see this hole digging as punitive for no good reason. It will come to symbolize a spirit to be rooted out. They will understand that if some leaders dug a hole for someone else for no good reason, they will dig a hole for them.
A lot of people didn’t vote. They said that it did not make any difference who was elected. Now, they will see that there is a real difference. This hole digging for someone else may well cause those who didn’t vote to rise up and cast their votes in the spirit of lessons learned.
As I said in a recent Sketches, in every defeat lie seeds of future victories and in every victory lie seeds of future defeat. Nothing stimulates hibernating seeds like emotional heat generated by a hole dug for someone else. When we dig a hole for someone else, we may as well dig two for we will surely fall in the one we dug.
Now on to the Daily Diary.
Saturday – I facilitated our monthly Unity Breakfast and handled many matters. I also made remarks at the 70th Birthday Celebration of Ruby Fuller of Selma. I communicated with the following: Sadie Moss of McRae Learning Center; Collins Pettaway, Jr. of Selma; Franklin Fortier of Z105.3 Radio Station; Jaeston Zellars of Auburn; Soulemane Fofana of Mali, West Africa; Leroy Maxwell and Juanda Maxwell of Selma; and Mae Taylor Richmond of the National Voting Rights Museum.
Sunday – I did Radio Sunday School with Dr. Margaret Hardy, Radio Education with Perry County School Superintendent John Heard, and Sunday Review. I attended Church before traveling to Greene County for two meetings. I attended the picture hanging of deceased Greene County Sheriff Ison Thomas. I communicated with the following: Douglas McArthur Sanders of Selma; Greene County Sheriff-elect Joe Benison; Sarah Duncan of Greene County; Mrs. Ison Thomas of Greene County; Lester Brown of Greene County; Greene County Commission Chair Nick Underwood; and Judge Lillie Osborn. I participated in a conference call with senators and worked into the night.
Monday - I worked on Sketches and handled various matters before going to Lowndes County where I met with various persons. I then traveled to Montgomery for several meetings including one with Senate leaders. I participated in a Senate Session, a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting and a Senate Committee meeting. I talked with the following: Lowndes County Commission Chair Charlie King; Birmingham News Reporter Dave White; Senator Del Marsh; Senator Scott Beason; Senator Arthur Orr; Senator Billy Beasley; Robert Avery of the Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC); Senator Jerry Fielding; Norman Hill of Alabama A & M University Board; Senator Marc Keahey; Dr. Roberta Watts of Gadsden; Booker Cooke of Greene County, who is in the hospital; and Senator Roger Bedford. I talked with AEA leader Dr. Paul Hubbert and several of his assistants before returning to Selma and working into the night.
Tuesday – I went to work early, attended a 7:30 a.m. Breakfast meeting with several Selma leaders and traveled to Montgomery for a Senate Session and a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting. I talked with the following: Representative John Knight; Norris Green of the Legislative Fiscal Office (LFO); Lobbyist Joe Fine; Jim Montgomery of Anniston; Sharon Wheeler of Montgomery; Senator Lee “Trip” Pitman; Sharon Calhoun of Montgomery; Dr. Carol P. Zippert; Senator Bobby Singleton; Senator Dick Brewbaker; former Senators Lowell Barron and Bobby Denton; Senator Linda Coleman; and Jeanetta Whitt Mitchell of Mobile. I had lunch with Senator Figures and dinner with former Lieutenant Governor Steve Windom. I made remarks on the Senate Floor, had lunch with Senator Vivian Davis Figures and dinner with Lobbyist Steve Windom. The Senate Session ended at 11:30 that night whereupon I returned to Selma.
Wednesday – I worked at my office before traveling to Montgomery for a Senate session and numerous meetings. I joined in filibusters against confirmation of several appointments up for consideration on the Senate Floor and Senate Bill 2 where I made my hole digging remarks. I talked with the following: Senator Linda Coleman; Senator Priscilla Dunn; Senator Bobby Singleton; Senator Quinton Ross; Lobbyist Joe Fine; Greene County School Board Member Leo Branch; James Stocker of Enterprise; Senator Cam Ward; and Doretha Smith of Montgomery. I began writing Sketches, continued in the Senate Session until 2:40 a.m. in the morning before traveling to Selma.
Thursday – I went to bed just before 4 a.m. and was up at 6:20 a.m. I had four hours of conference calls on Black farmers and communicated with the following: Ralph Paige and Heather Gray of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives (the Federation); Lowndes County Businessman Frank Kummel; Phil Fraas of Washington, D. C.; Dorothy Hulett of Lowndes County; Sam Walker of the National Voting rights Museum (NVRM); Billy Copeland of Demopolis; Erica Crenshaw of the Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF); Sharon Wheeler of Montgomery; and Lobbyist John Teague. I worked on many matters and for a change went home early (6:45 p.m.) to get some rest.
Friday – I had a Breakfast meeting with Dr. James Mitchell of Wallace Community College Selma (WCCS) and Ola Morrow of Maplesville before participating in various conference calls. I talked with the following: Shelley Fearson of ANSC; Montgomery Businessman Bob Dillon; Sherette Spicer of Selma; Ethel Roper of Dallas County; Consultant Rick Heartsill; and Roger Watts of Gadsden. I had lunch with Selma Mayor George Evans and Alisa Summerville of Alabama Power Company. I worked into the evening.
EPILOGUE – It matters what we do. It matters more why we do what we do. To kill another human being to protect ourselves or our families is self defense. To kill for no good reason is murder. Yes, it matters what and why we do what we do.
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.