Auburn forks over $87,000 to hear former Russian leader

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–Touching a lot of bases lightly during a slow news week in what the CBers (long since replaced by cell phones) used to call "Monkey-town"…
I am aware that ticket sales picked up a substantial part of the tab but it still troubled me to read that Auburn University had paid Mikhail Gorbachev an honorarium of $87,000 to speak on the campus a few weeks ago.
At a time when we are bombarded with news about the shortage of funds for education, to shell out an honorarium like that was not the best of public relations.
Shortly after his appearance there was another story revealing that Auburn University had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a couple of PR pros for their advice and counsel.
Where were those two when the university determined to pay Gorbachev such a whopping fee?
If they are as smart as their compensation suggests surely they could see that paying Gorbachev that much money was not good PR.
Haltom was a member of the remarkable freshman class of legislators who came to Montgomery in 1955, a group that included the likes of Ryan deGraffenried, Albert Brewer, Joe Goodwyn, Pat Boyd, Bob Gilchrist, Roscoe Roberts and Pete Mathews, to mention a few.
Haltom was a native of Florence, and after a distinguished combat record in World War II as a gunner on B-24, he came home, earned his law degree and served two terms in the legislature. In 1980 he was appointed a U. S. District Judge by President Carter, retiring in 1995.
In Montgomery incumbent Mayor Bobby Bright easily defeated five other hopefuls to win a second term without a run-off. Bright had drawn considerable heat for pushing for the construction of a $26 million state-of-the-art baseball stadium in downtown Montgomery but that issue didn't hurt him at the polls.
Bright's re-election was significant for perhaps a historical reason…with the demographics of the city changing so rapidly most experts predict he will be Montgomery's last white mayor.
In Birmingham a run-off will be required between incumbent Mayor Bernard Kincaid and runner-up City Councilwoman Carole Smitherman.
Kincaid polled 32 percent of the vote, Smitherman received 22 percent. Both are black.
If Smitherman should turn the election around she would be the first woman elected as mayor of a major Alabama city in history.
She was unable to be present for the event and she was represented by her brother, Temple Tutwiler of Birmingham. If you don't know, he and she descend from two exceedingly prominent Birmingham families…the Tutwilers and the DeBardelebens-and both gave new meaning to ultra-conservatism. I mean far, far to the right.
Noting that one of the other honorees was Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has been called many things but never conservative, Tutwiler couldn't resist taking a shot at Dees:
"Mr. Dees, I have to tell it like it is…my father would not have been caught dead in the same room with you."
Even Morris laughed at that line.

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