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DOT lawsuit drained the state for too long

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–Only one word can describe the long-running racial discrimination suit against the State Department of Transportation-disgraceful.
And there is plenty of blame to go around for this shameful litigation, but it is difficult not to place most of it at the feet of U. S. District Judge Myron Thompson. As important as the issues may be in this suit, why he has allowed the case to continue for almost 20 years is as inexplicable as it is indefensible. And why should the taxpayers of Alabama care about this snail-paced lawsuit? Because it has cost you more than $170 million in legal fees, expert witness costs, fines. If the lawyers on both sides of this litigation didn't send Judge Thompson a Valentine Day card last week they ought to be ashamed.
There are at least some signs that the end of this case may be near. Last week Judge Thompson suspended the $31,500-a-week fine he has imposed on the Department of Transportation. The state has paid more than $16 million in fines assessed by Thompson because he did not feel the agency was moving fast enough. It has been a legal/judicial nightmare and one can only wonder how many dangerous roads and unsafe bridges might have been repaired with the millions that went into the pockets of the lawyers.
"Smear Sheets" as they are called used to be distributed with regularity in campaigns but have been rarely employed in more recent campaigns.
The special election was held to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Rep. Jeff Dolbare, a Democrat who represented District 85. (Clarke, Washington and Choctaw counties.)
Waging a spirited campaign for the seat was his widow, Gloria, the Democrat nominee and Nick Williams, a Republican.
Early in the campaign the Alabama Christian Coalition sent a document to both candidates asking them to pledge they would support a ban on same-sex marriages. Mrs. Dolbare said she never received the pledge. No matter, since she did not respond the GOP campaign committee pounced. They distributed a flier implying that she favored same-sex marriages.
The flier showed two smiling men standing on a porch holding hands and underneath it said: "Let Gloria know that God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve."
How effective was the flier? Williams won the election, the first Republican to hold that seat in years.
A good friend of mine took me on my very first visit to The American Village in Montevallo. My one-word reaction: Wow! I was totally unprepared for what I saw.
Located on a beautiful 113-acre tract of land on the outskirts of Montevallo, it includes more than a dozen structures reminiscent of early American historic buildings.
It's primary function is education…and tens of thousands of school children visit American Village each year where they participate in and get hands on experience in how this nation was founded.
The highlight of my visit was not the facilities, spectacular though they were, but the looks of wide-eyed wonderment on the faces of the school children as they listened to the likes of Benjamin Franklin and Patrick Henry and other patriots of old telling the story of the birth of this nation.
You have simply got to visit American Village…but more importantly, you must insist that the history and civics teachers in your school systems be made aware of this incredible educational opportunity. It ought to be a required field trip for every school in the state. It is that good.

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