Lawmakers, Sparks, Milton McGregor respond to gambling czar resignation
State Rep. Mike Hubbard, House minority leader and chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, said that he believes that Barber "used poor judgment" and was right to resign.
"But the task force is bigger than one man," he said. "I feel certain that their work will continue."
Hubbard said Barber's resignation and the reason for it have nothing to do with the fact that a legal question remains about electronic bingo in Alabama.
"That's going to be a question for the courts to decide," he said. "Just because somebody goes out of state to do something doesn't mean it's something that we should be rushing to do in our state. It certainly hasn't solved Mississippi's problems, or Macon County's problems or Greene County's problems."
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ron Sparks, who supports taxing and regulating gambling, said Barber takes his money from Alabama and gambles in Mississippi with the revenues educating children and creating jobs there.
"This just proves the hypocrisy of those who want to kill Alabama jobs and rob our children and seniors of important revenue," said Sparks, the state's agriculture commissioner. "We have a governor who takes Mississippi gambling money while his anti-gambling czar gambles in Mississippi."
Riley has adamantly denied allegations from a former Cabinet member and a U.S. Senate committee report that he took money from Mississippi Indians in 2002 when he was running for governor.
Sparks said the task force, not Country Crossing, is hurting jobs in Alabama.
State Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, said he didn't think Barber should resign just because he was gambling in a state that allows people to do so legally. Holmes said he should resign for not being truthful with the people of the state about his position on gambling.
The longtime lawmaker said the fact that the head of the governor's own task force on illegal gambling is resigning because of gambling weakens Riley's position on the issue.
"It strengthens the argument that the citizens of Alabama should be given an opportunity to vote on legalized gambling in the state," he said.
Holmes said it also throws doubt on Riley's assertions that he did not take Mississippi Indian casino money during his 2002 campaign for governor. He said Riley should shut down the task force, of which he questions the legality, and stop fighting the people who have spent millions to bring projects such as Country Crossing.
"Gov. Riley needs to leave this whole issue of gambling alone," he said. "That genie is out of the bottle."
VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor said another resignation was in order.
"Now that this whole so-called task force with David Barber has been exposed as being the sham that it has been since day one, Barber is not the only one who should resign," said the owner of the dog track/electronic bingo/entertainment facility located off the Shorter exit along Interstate 85. "I think Riley should resign with him.
"What Riley has done is a shame and a disgrace. Think about the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of taxpayer's dollars that he has wasted paying attorneys' fees on this so-called task force, which is nothing but a protection mechanism for the Indian casino owners."
He said he believes that the incident will "destroy" the governor's task force and that it certainly destroys any credibility the task force claimed it had.
"It clearly shows what we have been saying since day one — how hypocritical and dishonest David Barber and Bob Riley have been, and still are, on the bingo issue," McGregor said.
"I don't think anything could say this louder or clearer than what happened today, and that the people of Alabama will clearly demonstrate to Riley and Barber how they resent such hypocrisy and dishonesty. The bottom line is that now the truth is out -- about David Barber, Bob Riley and their so-called task force. This task force is nothing but a scheme that Bob Riley concocted to protect the Indian Mississippi casino owners from any competition whatsoever from Alabama."
-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen