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Riley undoes Sigelman's orders

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–It didn't take Gov. Bob Riley long to undo some mischief done by outgoing Gov. Don Siegelman in the final hours of his administration.
In what can only be described as brazen, Siegelman issued a series of executive orders–a costly "thank you note" if you please–to Mac McArthur, the executive director of the Alabama State Employees Association (ASEA).
McArthur and ASEA had been strident supporters of Siegelman in the 2002 election.
The most perplexing of the orders signed by Siegelman would have required the state to pay the entire premium for hospital insurance on the children of state employees with low salaries. As well meaning as the idea might have been, Siegelman forgot to ask the most important question: Can the state afford this extra expense?
State Health Officer Don Williamson howled in protest, so did other officials involved with the state insurance program. Two other orders would have allowed state employees who are lawyers to practice their profession while still on the state payroll, a plan which Dr. David Bronner said would create all manner of ethics problems.
No matter…in about as long as it takes to count to 10…Gov. Riley issued executive orders of his own voiding those signed by Siegelman.
To the say the least, Bishop's career in the political arena has been tempetuous. His outbursts on the floor of the State Senate when he was a member of that body are near-legendary, and an often-told story is the occasion when he challenged one of his colleagues to settle their differences with their fists. The other senator wisely declined.
Bishop, who made a pot of money in the coal business and sports a diamond ring that would make Elizabeth Taylor envious attracted even more attention last June on electon night after he was overwhelmingly defeated in a bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination by Gov. Don Siegelman.
In his concession statement…if you can call it that…he unleashed a withering attack on Gov. Siegelman and the leadership of the State Democratic Party. He capped it off by endorsing Riley for governor.
It is highly unlikely that had any impact on the outcome of the November election, hence Riley didn't owe Bishop anything. But no matter, the new governor added him to the cabinet.
In all fairness, let it be said that the Department of Labor is not one of the more important agencies in the state. It has only eight people on the payroll, including Bishop.
It was still an odd appointment.
We saw an example of that last week. State Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, the president pro tem of the upper chamber, approved the rennovation of a Senate committee room to become the office of Sen. Bobby Denton, D-Muscle Shoals,
Why does Sen. Denton deserve a new and improved office? Because Barron appointed him "Dean of the Senate." Just what that newly-created position means is unclear, other than Denton has been a member of the upper chamber longer than any other and because he voted right when Barron was elected pro tem a few weeks ago.
Sen. Gerald Dial, D-Ashland, who didn't vote right in that election, wondered out loud how the Legislature could spend "several hundred thousands of dollars" on this project.
A Senate employee said Dial's estimate was high.
He said the project shouldn't cost more than $15,000.
Add the good folks of the city of Talladega to the long list of those
who do not want their property taxes raised for education…no matter
the plight of their schools.
Two referendums were held in that city last week…one to raise
property taxes five mills, the other three mills. Both were rejected by
near identical three-to-one margins.
The well known advice about not messing with Mother Nature can
be amended in Alabama to say don't mess with property taxes.

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