Houston will probably be chief

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–There is an old saying in my trade which warns that those who live by the crystal ball will end up eating glass.
Last week I didn't flat out predict that Roy Moore would not be removed from the office of Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, but I came close. I said something to the effect that the betting odds in Montgomery were that he would be suspended without pay for a period of time. That's what I thought would happen.
If you bet that way you lost. As you surely know by this time, the Court of Judiciary handed down what amounted to the death penalty–Roy Moore was thrown out of office.
Hindsight affording the 20-20 vision that it does, perhaps the decision should not have been a surprise. Even more so after the one-day trial when Moore refused to budge in his defiance of court orders to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the Judicial Building.
Moore's defiant stand before the Court of the Judiciary was reminiscent of George Wallace of old. In so many words Moore said "I did it, I don't apologize, and I'd do it again if I had the chance." That hard line, unrepentant position left the Court of the Judiciary no wiggle room.
Where do we go from here? First, Gov. Bob Riley must appoint a new Chief Justice, and it seems probable his choice will be the man who has held the seat on a temporary basis since Moore's suspension: Associate Justice Gorman Houston.
As to Moore's future, assuming his appeals are unsuccessful, most everybody agrees that he will be heard from again politically. The most likely scenario: A run for the U. S. Senate next year, seeking the seat now held by incumbent Republican Richard Shelby.
A run for governor cannot be ruled out, but the next election for that office is 2006. That may be too long for Moore to wait to benefit from the stand he has taken this year.
Under a recently-adopted Constitutional Amendment, trustees Lowell Barron of Fyffe and Jack Venable of Tallassee must vacate their seats on Jan. 1. Actually the terms of Sen. Barron and Rep. Venable expired last Jan. 1, but the constitutional provision allows them to serve until their successors are confirmed or for one year. It is that second provision that will come into play in less than two months.
There had been some talk that both Barron and Venable would challenge the new amendmend in court but both have said they will not.
If the two step down as they have promised it is likely the Senate will swiftly confirm the nominees for their seats–Dwight Carlisle of Alex City to fill Venable's seat, Charles Ball of Gadsden to succeed Barron.
But buried at the bottom of that resolution was a paragraph repealing an expense account paid monthly to the lieutenant governor.
The Legislature duly passed the resolution honoring Glance…but it also repealed Beasley's handsome expense allowance.
Now comes Rep. Johnny Ford, D-Macon. He introduced a local bill to legalize bingo in his county. The Legislature approved the bill after amending it to limit cash payouts to $10,000.
However when the bill came up for a final vote Ford quietly exchanged it for the original bill which allows unlimited payoffs.
Ford defended his deceptive tactics, calling it "clever maneuvering."
It has been called other things by other people.

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