Alabama a purple state? Don’t bet on it
Bob Ingram, Capitol Scene
MONTGOMERY — It looked for a moment last week that the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing among the Democrats in the state Senate.
When Gov. Riley announced plans to call a special session to increase the state's bond debt limit with the money to be used to attract industry, the Democrat Caucus in the Senate howled in protest. It would be a waste of money to call a special session said Sen. Zeb Little, D-Cullman, who is emerging as a rising (and ambitious) star in his party.
But, lo and behold, the very next day the special session got a strong endorsement from the two biggest Democrats in the Legislature: Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom and House Speaker Seth Hammett, D-Andalusia. That may not have been egg on the face of Little and the other Democratic senators but it sure looked like it.
What the senators must not have known is that when Riley flew to Germany a couple of weeks ago to meet with industrial prospects he was accompanied by Folsom and Hammett.
When Dr. Corts suggested a few days ago that perhaps there should be a separate state board to oversee the two-year colleges, he quit preaching and started meddling. Almost instantly some of the board members raised the possibility of removing Corts from his position.
Realizing the tempest he had created with his remarks he said he had mentioned a separate board “only lightly and without emphasis.”
An ongoing investigation had turned up evidence of mass wrongdoing in the two-year system — wrongdoing that had gone completely unnoticed by the State Board of Education until it was revealed in some splendid investigative reporting by the Birmingham News.
Corts in his initial remarks said that perhaps the State Board of Education had more than enough to watch over without also having the responsibility of the two-year schools as well. He also said that he was well aware he served at the pleasure of the board and “you need only to let me know when your pleasure is spent.”
Ella Bell, a board member from Montgomery, had a wicked response to that: “I would say my pleasure is spent. We hired him thinking he was the right man for this job and it just didn't work out.”
The obvious question in this donnybrook: If Corts is dismissed will the investigation into the sordid mess in the two-year system continue with the same gusto?
Gallup said Alabama is no longer a “Red State” — a Republican state, that is — as far as the 2008 presidential election is concerned. The firm said Democrats now hold a 49-48 percent margin in the state, hence it should be classified as a “Purple State.” In fact, Gallup rated Alabama as the fourth most competitive state in the nation.
Maybe so, but it will take a heap of convincing for me to believe Alabamians will go to the polls in 2008 and vote for any of the likely Democrat nominees for president. The last Democrat to carry Alabama in a presidential election was Jimmy Carter and I don't think Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or the myriad of other Democrat wanna-be presidents are going to break that long losing streak.
The goal of this organization is to provide a free, one day trip for World War II veterans to Washington to tour the World War II Memorial. The first flight will be made April 4 when about a dozen vets (the youngest is 78, most are several years older) will be flown to Washington where a chartered bus will take them to the memorial.
They will be accompanied by medical personnel because some of them are not in the best of health.
This fall the organization has even bigger plans — a plane will be chartered to carry 60 vets to the memorial, again with all expenses paid. Joe Fitzgerald, a Huntsville businessman, is head of this volunteer group and he thinks it is important that members of the “Greatest Generation” have the opportunity to see the memorial that honors them. “We are losing 1,200 to 1,500 of these veterans every day so there is no time to waste,” he said.