Sparks, lawmakers look at Mobile command center for spill
The Monday trip to Mobile was organized by agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, who is also a Democratic candidate for governor.
He was joined at a Montgomery press conference by Senate Majority Leader Zeb Little, Sen. Lowell Barron, House Majority Leader Ken Guin, and Rep. John Knight, chairman of the House General Fund budget committee.
Other legislators joined them to tour the command center in downtown Mobile and were briefed by officials with the nine state agencies who are helping with the effort.
Barron, D-Fyffe, said there are hundreds of federal employees working alongside state employees. He said "perhaps Katrina taught the federal government some lessons."
Barron said they want to ensure all needs are being met.
"Nobody knows how the disaster will affect Alabama," Sparks said.
Sparks said the disaster has already hit Alabama, affecting tourism and the fishing industry.
"I think the fear of this has paralyzed tourism in the area," said Guin, D-Carbon Hill.
Sparks and Barron said they want oil giant BP held accountable for the spill.
"We want to know that every claim that is laid on the table is dealt with responsibly," Sparks said.
He said they do not know how many people will be on unemployment.
"This could be a long drawn out situation," Sparks said.
Knight, Sparks and Barron encouraged Gov. Bob Riley to begin a public relations campaign to let people know the beaches are open in Alabama.
State tourism officials have already produced commercials.
-- posted Sebastian Kitchen