Riley probably misses Congress
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–Who could blame Gov. Bob Riley if he put a sticker on the bumper of his state car proclaiming "I'd Rather Be A Congressman?"
An Alabama legislature controlled by the Democrats…or more correctly by Dr. Paul Hubbert of the AEA…has made Riley's life miserable during the current session and there is no indication it is going to get better.
One by one Riley's accountability bills have been shot down like plastic ducks at a county fair shooting gallery. And while there is talk he may call a special session after the regular session to try again on his accountability legislation, you wonder why.
You have to believe that at times Riley longs for the good old days when he was a relatively unknown Congressman from the Third District, his chief worry trying to find out why some constituent had not received his or her Social Security check on time.
Say this about the governor. If he feels picked-upon, abused, whatever, it doesn't show. Publicly, at least, he is as upbeat as ever, publicly he insists he is as confident that in the end the "good guys"…his side…will prevail and all the problems facing the state will be resolved.
As to a prediction about what will come from this regular session, you will have to look elsewhere for that. That this Legislature will never, ever ask teachers or state employees to pay more for their health insurance or their retirement benefits is a given. And that is the only place where millions of dollars could be saved.
That leaves as the only alternative some major tax increases, which Riley unalterably opposes. The likely scenario: Some taxes will be increased even if they have to be passed over Riley's veto.
The 18,000-plus plaintiffs were howling because each of them received an average settlement of about $7,800 but the lawyers who represented them received millions.
The firm headed by Jere Beasley of Montgomery was paid $34 million, and another firm headed by Johnnie Cochran of O.J. Simpson fame was paid $27 million.
Later the news broke that an $11.9 billion verdict handed down by a jury against Exxon for cheating the state out of oil royalties had been reduced to $3.5 billion. Despite that reduction, the Exxon award is three times more than any other similar lawsuit in the nation in 2003.
More than 100 of his buddies got together in a barn in rural Montgomery County to honor the legendary Mathews, and if you had heard some of the political stories that were told you would have understood why a barn was the appropriate place for the party. Mathews observed his 86th birthday last November but he was hospitalized at the time, hence the belated party.
Mathews is now confined to a wheel chair but he can still tell a political story better than most anybody.
It was revealed a few days ago that the name of one of the most prestigious awards presented at the end of Spring football practice has been changed from the "Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence Award" to the "Bart Starr Commitment to Excellence Award."
The explanation for the change: It was felt that it was inappropriate to have an award named after a coach at another SEC university.
Croom, who very much wanted to be Alabama's head coach, was named coach of Mississippi State earlier this year.
Croom was one of Coach Paul Bryant's favorite players…an All American and captain of the team. And he invoked the name of the legend in responding to the name change.
"I find it hard to believe," he said, "that Coach Bryant would ever have done something like that."
Take that, Coach Shula.