State’s Chief Justice race claims dubious prize
Bob Ingram, Capitol Scene
MONTGOMERY — It came as no surprise, but the final numbers confirmed that more money was spent in the race for the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court than any judicial race in the nation in 2006. It was also the most expensive judicial race in state history.
Ironically, Drayton Nabers, the Republican incumbent who lost his seat, was the biggest fund raiser and spender. His final report showed he raised $4.1 million. Democrat Sue Bell Cobb, who won the race, reported taking in $2.1 million. Justice Tom Parker, who challenged Nabers in the GOP primary, reported that he raised $641,088.
Be certain these numbers ignited yet another demand to change the way Alabama's judges are elected.
While the chief justice race was setting a new record for spending, such was not the case in the 2006 gubernatorial campaign. Gov. Bob Riley, who won a second term, reported spending a whopping $12.9 million, but that's almost $1 million less than he spent in 2002.
Riley's Democratic challenger last year, Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley, didn't come close to keeping pace with Riley in raising or spending money. Baxley reported that she spent $4 million in her unsuccessful campaign.
George Burger, a political consultant who worked in a number of campaigns in Alabama, died unexpectedly a few days ago of meningitis. He was only 50. For a number of years he was a consultant for the Business Council of Alabama and was heavily involved in several judicial and legislative campaigns. He left politics in 2005 to become vice president for special events with the Professional Golfers Association.
It was on Feb. 7, 1967 that the fire swept through the posh, upscale restaurant atop what was then Walter Bragg Smith Apartments. For years it had been a favorite dining room and “watering hole” for politicians, business executives, high society of Montgomery.
After months of painstaking investigation it was concluded that the fire started in a cloak room where patrons had left their coats on the cold February night. It was presumed but never confirmed that perhaps a lighted pipe left in one of the coats started the blaze.
Tragically, the cloak room was next to the stairwell and the elevator, effectively blocking the only exits out of the restaurant.
Among the victims were Ed Pepper and his wife. He was prominent in state politics, having served as assistant state finance director and, later, as a member of the Alabama Public Service Commission.
While the fire ranks as the worst tragedy in Montgomery history in terms of lives lost, there have been countless other disasters in Alabama that claimed far more lives.
Among the worst: A train accident near Mobile in 1992 which killed 47; a mine explosion in the community of Littleton in 1911 which claimed 128 lives; and a series of tornadoes which swept across Alabama on March 21, 1932, killing 258 Alabamians.
Also posted on the internet was a letter from Trawick in which he describes in detail how he would torture and murder pop music star Britney Spears. Be sure these sketches have provoked anger and anguish to the families of the victims of the two men.