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We'll have to wait for Riley

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–The much-ballyhooed Labor Day cookout at the Governor's Mansion where Bob Riley was expected to make it official that he would seek a second term didn't come off…for good reason.
Hurricane Katrina resulted in the cancellation of that party, as it should have. Gov. Riley had other more critical matters to look after.
That he will shortly confirm his intentions to seek a second term seems like only a matter of time. As to when that will come, that of course is his decision.
It has not been that many years when an incumbent governor was constitutionally permitted to serve back-to-back terms. It was in the late 1960s during the Brewer Administration that voters approved a constitutional amendment to allow constitutional officers to run for a second consecutive term.
Since that time only two incumbent governors have not taken advantage of that provision to seek reelection. In 1982 incumbent Gov. Fob James did not seek a second term and four years later Gov. George Wallace did not seek re-election.
In all the other gubernatorial elections since succession was allowed the incumbent has run for a second term but only two were successful…Wallace in 1974 and Guy Hunt in 1990.
If you are curious about the history of this issue, from 1819 until 1901 the term of office for governors was two years and they were allowed to serve two consecutive terms of four years.
When the term of office was increased to four years by the writers of the '01 Constitution the delegates to that convention added the provision that back-to-back terms would not be allowed because they feared eight consecutive years in office would give the governor far too much power.
In 1966 Gov. Wallace tried mightily to amend the Constitution to allow him to run again…the so-called "Succcession Special Session" of the Legislature that year still ranks as the most controversial in decades…but he failed.
Last week, Gov. Mike Easley of North Carolina signed legislation authorizing a lottery in that state.
Of course Alabama remains in the minority of nine and only one other Southeastern state is without a lottery….Mississippi. But of course that state has legalized casinos.
At this late date would a lottery in Alabama be the financial bonanza it has been in other states? Not likely. Residents along Alabama's state lines would surely continue to play the lotteries in Tennessee, Georgia and Florida where the payouts…as rare as they are…would be far greater.
At least one potential candidate for governor…Don Siegelman…has made it clear that if he is elected he will try again to get a lottery approved in Alabama. It may be a case of too little too late.
The state's prison population now stands at about 27,500 and it is increasing at an alarming rate…about 100 a month. The prisons were built to accommodate about half that many inmates.
More than once the expression "powder keg" has been used to describe the situation. Overcrowded prisons manned by understaffed guards point to serious trouble.
The solution to the crisis: Either build more prisons or reduce the number of inmates through a major overhaul in sentencing laws.
The inductees are former Gov. Albert Brewer of Birmingham; Dr. Tom Corts, president of Samford University; former Congressman Jack Edwards of Mobile; and Dr. Wayne Flynt, Auburn University history professor.
Inducted posthumously will be Ronald Casey, a longtime Alabama journalist; and Bailey Thompson, journalism professor at The University of Alabama.

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