Legislature finds financial Band-Aid

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–If your memory is good, you may remember the countless TV commercials which ran back in 2000 showing Gov. Don Siegelman, with a concerned look on his face, inspecting bridges which were badly in need of repair.
The pitch of the spots: Vote Yes on Amendment No. 1, which would take $300 million from the previously-untouchable oil and gas trust fund to repair these bridges as well as offer site improvements and other incentives to new industries.
The Alabama Legislature has found another use for a good chunk of this bond issue money. They plan to use it as a Band-Aid for both the Education and General Fund budgets.
The budgets now being considered in the Legislature include $119 million of the bond issue money. About $102 million will be used to balance the education budget, the remaining $19 million is in the General Fund budget.
Gov. Riley has vowed to veto any budget, which proposes to use the bond issue money. He said it is needed not only for bridge repairs but also to attract new industry to the site.
It has always intrigued me that most of the counties in South Alabama couldn't wait to vote "wet"–to legalize alcoholic beverages–while most of the counties in North Alabama voted "dry."
It has to do with our roots. But that's a different story.
Over the years there has been some tweaking of the county option law. It was amended to provide that even in "dry" counties a city, if it met certain population requirements, could vote "wet."
Now comes State Sen. Pat Lindsey, D-Butler, with another proposed amendment to that law. It would legalize the sale of alcoholic beverages at what are called "golf club communities" in dry counties.
Lindsey defends his proposal, saying it would help economic development. His thinking is that no industrial executives want to build a plant in a county where they can't have a drink or two after a bad round of golf.
Others call the legislation "elitist": The Country Clubbers can have their drinks, the po' folks who can't afford to live in the upscale community or join the country club will have to make do with a RC Cola and a moon pie.
I haven't taken a poll of the legislators, but I would be surprised if this bill ever reaches the desk of the governor for his signature.
The University of Alabama faculty senate has overwhelmingly approved a resolution "apologizing" because more than a century and a half ago several UA presidents owned slaves and slave labor was used to build some of the buildings on the campus.
I sure don't have a dog in that fight but I am nonetheless compelled to react to that resolution: Was it really necessary? What good did it do?
The resolution…and the faculty members who proposed it…got their 15 minutes of fame on the national TV news shows. I have no doubt some of them will include their involvement in this effort on their resumes. But other than that, what was accomplished by this resolution?
Named as the coach was Nell Fortner, and her hiring happened so swiftly that she did not have time to dress properly for the televised press conference where she was introduced. The frock she had on looked like a Blue Light Special at K-Mart and she was also wearing flip-flops.
She handled the situation splendidly and in the process made a lot of points with Auburn faithful.
Lets face it…not a lot of folks lie awake at night worrying about the success or lack of same of the women's basketball program. Coach Fortner might be the one to change that. There is a snap, crackle and pop about her that is engaging.

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