Give Siegelman credit for perseverance

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–Say what you may about Don Siegelman….love him or hate him…but give him a rousing ovation for his upbeat nature.
The former governor is under attack on a variety of fronts. Two federal grand juries, one in Birmingham and the other in Montgomery, have been working around the clock building up a variety of cases against him. He has already been indicted once and other indictments are likely to follow.
None of the charges have been proved in court but the smoke around his administration as governor is so thick one must believe there is a fire somewhere.
But despite all of this, Siegelman is acting like he is a sure-fire candidate for a second term as governor in 2006. He is showing up at conventions and pressing the flesh with as much enthusiasm as ever. And last week, in a letter begging for money to help him pay his mounting legal bills, Siegelman dropped another strong hint that he will be a man to contend with in the '06 gubernatorial campaign.
He wrote in his letter that he had thought that the next time he asked for money "it would be re-election campaign."
You can't help but admire his upbeat outlook. If he is not a member of the Optimist Club he ought to be.
Be sure he beat the rap. He showed the arresting officers his legislative ID, invoked legislative immunity, and went on his way.
But Barron was upset that in both instances he was stopped by local law enforcement officers who were patrolling the interstate…not State Troopers.
He determined to do something about that, and having the power he has, he did. Barron got a law passed prohibiting city and county law enforcement officers in rural areas from making traffic arrests on interstates in their jurisdiction
The result has been that with the desperate shortage of State Troopers because of the funding crisis Alabama's interstates have been turned into speedways.
State Public Safety Director Mike Coppage puts it another way. He says Alabama has become known as a "Hammer State"…which is to say motorists…and most especially 18-wheelers…know they can put the "hammer down" on Alabama's interstates with little fear of being ticketed. He and Gov. Riley would like to repeal the Barron law and return to the city and county enforcement officers the authority to make traffic arrests on the interstates..
In 2002 Sen. Russell directed $107,000 of her pork money to Jefferson State Community College and then had $37,000 of that money given to a program called Expressways to Learning–a tutoring program she had created with another act. This program is run by her brother and sister.
What is puzzling is why Sen. Russell faces possible legal action by the Attorney General's Office for the questionable spending of $37,000 but no one has questioned the millions of dollars in "pork" money Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma, has sent to agencies in his district which are run by his family members.
I had the pleasure of serving in the Brewer Cabinet with Al. In fact, he was Adjutant General in the Cabinets of three governors–George and Lurleen Wallace as well as Albert Brewer.

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