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Riley earns praise for appointments

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–Even his critics have given Gov.-elect Bob Riley an "A-+" grade for the Cabinet appointments he has made thus far for his upcoming administration.
His latest appointment, that of Kathy Sawyer as commission of the Department of Mental Health, may have drawn the most applause. Sawyer is the first woman and first African American named by Riley, but more than that, she was the Democrat incumbent in the position, having served in the Siegelman Cabinet.
That he would not only pick a Democrat for this position but a Siegelman appointee gives added weight to his promise to fill his Cabinet with the best qualified people, no matter their politics.
As a matter of fact, of his first four Cabinet appointments, only one has had any link with politics–incoming Chief of Staff Toby Roth. He was Riley's campaign manager.
Incoming Finance Director Drayton Nabers and Transportation Director Joe McInnes both are long on business experience (Nabors with Protective Life, McInnes with Blount Inc.) but have had no experience whatsoever in the rough-and-tumble arena of state politics.
Early in the new administration newly-reelected Attorney General Bill Pryor will be nominated for a seat on the 11th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and if confirmed by the Senate will resign from his AG post.
If Pryor gets the judgeship…something he has coveted for a long time…that would mean that Riley would appoint his successor.
Two familiar names have been prominently mentioned for the appointment: Terry Butts, a Democrat, and a former member of the Alabama Supreme Court; and Steve Windom, who will become the former lieutenant governor on Jan. 20.
Butts had been pretty much off the radar screen after losing in a race for AG four years ago, but he played an up-front role for Riley in the post-election controversy last November. He would most certainly switch to the Republican Party before he would be considered for the appointment.
Windom was badly beaten by Riley in the 2002 GOP gubernatorial primary, but licked his wounds, and labored mightily for the Riley General Election campaign.
Last fall U. S. Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions…who make federal judicial appointments…had nominated U. S. Magistrate Judge William Steele of Mobile for the 11th Circuit spot, but his nomination was never considered by the Senate.
As the story goes, Steele will instead be nominated for a vacant U. S. District Court judgeship in Mobile (the Southern Division), opening the way for Pryor to be named to the 11th Circuit.
Being a newspaper junkie…I read just about all of Alabama's dailies…there was general agreement among the daily press on the top two stories, but no agreement as to which was No. 1.
The historic 2002 governor's race which went into extra innings and the Hyundai announcement that it will build a billion dollar plant near Montgomery were either No. 1 or No. 2 in all the newspapers.
And if you are curious, the Alabama football coaching controversy was near the top in all the rankings as well.

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