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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Riley expected to call special session on ethics Wednesday

Gov. Bob Riley is expected to call a special session to address ethics reform during a press conference Wednesday at the Capitol.
"The governor has been speaking with legislative leaders and other legislators since the Nov. 2 election about whether to have a special session to pass anti-corruption reforms that Governor Riley and others have tried to pass for years but were always killed by the Democratic majority in the Legislature," according to a release from Riley's office. "Some of those reforms they tried to pass include a ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers, full disclosure of lobbyist spending, and subpoena power for the Alabama Ethics Commission."
Republicans took control of the Alabama House and Senate in the Nov. 2 election for the first time in more than 130 years. Since then, Riley has talked about calling a special session before Gov.-elect Robert Bentley takes office in January.
"To deal with ethics and deal with it right off the bat is the right thing to do," said state Rep. Mike Hubbard, who would likely be voted speaker of the House during that special session. He said Tuesday, during a swearing in ceremony for state Rep. Paul Beckman of Prattville that he expects Riley to call a special session Wednesday on ethics.
Hubbard, an Auburn Republican, said state Sen. Bryan Taylor of Prattville, who was elected Nov. 2, was not at the swearing in for Beckman on Tuesday because he was "dispatched to Birmingham to get ready for a special session."
Taylor was policy director for Riley before stepping down to run for office.
Hubbard said Alabama has become known for corruption after the investigations into the state's two-year college system and into gambling. But, he said, the "vast majority (of public officials) are honest and serve for the right reasons."
"We have developed this reputation," Hubbard said.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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House Democrats elect leaders

Democrats in the Alabama House of Representatives selected state Rep. Craig Ford of Gadsden as their minority leader on Tuesday.
They also selected Rep. Thomas Jackson of Thomasville as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
Ford said they would share power.
Other officers elected during a Tuesday meeting at the Alabama Education Association include: Barbara Boyd of Anniston as vice chair of the caucus; Joe Hubbard of Montgomery as minority whip; Rod Scott of Fairfield and Chris England of Tuscaloosa as caucus whips; Richard Lindsey of Centre as secretary/treasurer; and A.J. McCampbell of Demopolis as policy member.
Each officer was elected to a two-year term, according to the new charter or rules drafted by the Democratic caucus on Tuesday.
Ford said all 39 Democrats in the House would be responsible for holding Republicans accountable. Republicans hold 66 seats in the 105-member House.
The leaders said the priorities for Democrats remain the same, removing the sales tax from groceries and protecting Medicaid and children's health insurance.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bedford Selected as Senate Minority Leader

The Senate Democratic Caucus has selected Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, as its minority leader, according to a press release from Bedford Wednesday.

"I am honored to have been elected by my colleagues to serve as minority leader," Bedford said in a statement. "The Democratic Caucus looks forward to working with the new administration to achieve strong ethics reform and to continue to ensure the well being of all Alabamians by creating new jobs and fighting to protect our children and seniors during these tough economic times."

Bedford is formerly the powerful chairman of the Senate committee that crafted the state's General Fund budget.

Republicans took control of both chambers of the Alabama Legislature for the first time in 136 years on Nov. 2.

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks


Monday, November 22, 2010

UPDATED: Four Democrats switch, giving Republicans supermajority in House

Four Democrats in the Alabama House of Representatives switched parties on Monday, giving Republicans the necessary majorities in both chambers of the Legislature to bring up their agenda and to shut down delays from Democrats if they vote as a bloc.
Alan Boothe of Troy, Mike Millican of Hamilton, Lesley Vance of Phenix City, and Steve Hurst of Munford announced their switch, which was reported by the Montgomery Advertiser on Friday.
About 20 Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers and the likely choice for the next speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Hubbard of Auburn, were at the announcement.
The legislators said they would be able to better serve their constituents in the Republican Party, which they said better represents their beliefs. They said they believe in small businesses and small government.
"To serve my people the best I can, I felt the Republican Party was the place for me," Boothe said.
They said the people of their districts, the people of Alabama and people nationwide spoke on Nov. 2, when there were sweeping Republican victories.
Boothe, who has not had opposition in his district in the last three elections, said he was listening to the voters.
"There was a message sent on Nov. 2 and that was that people want a change in Montgomery," he said. " ... If you do not listen, if you do not pay attention, you're not doing your job."
Hubbard, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, said those four men approached them about switching. He said no other Democrats have approached them.
Hubbard said they do not want opportunists, but wanted like-minded conservatives, which he said is evident in those four legislators by their voting record. He said none of the men were promised anything and that they did not discuss committee assignments or any other arrangements.
Hubbard said he talked to the four Democrats about their motivations.
"They're switching for one reason," he said. "They are philosophically aligned with the Republican Party."
The Alabama Democratic Party criticized the move of the men, which just won reelection with the physical and financial help and votes of Democrats.
Republicans in the Legislature "have put on a full-court press to push all white Democrats to change parties after the election," according to a statement from the Alabama Democratic Party. The switch also demonstrates the partisanship that can be expected from the Republican majority with intentions of impugning the rights and voices of those Democrats who did not switch over, according to the Alabama Democratic Party.
"These gentlemen have been my friends for a long time and I respect each of them personally, but I am saddened and hurt by their decision today," Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham said in the statement.
If the four legislators believe that the ideals of the Republican Party are better for them, Democrats said they could resign and seek reelection in a special election as a Republican. They would have to win the primary and the general election "and let the voters of their districts validate their switch today," according to the statement.
"I think each of these gentlemen could have been elected as Republicans anyway," Hubbard said.
The Alabama Democratic Party also pointed out that Hurst received more than $50,000 from the Democratic House caucus in his re-election bid. Also, party officials pointed out, Boothe and Millican had no opposition this year.
Republicans would not be punitive and they would "go to great pains to not do to them what they've done to us," Hubbard said.
He said they will require Republicans to vote in a bloc to bring up legislation that is on the caucus's agenda, but "we never tell a member how to vote on final passage." He said it is important for the caucus to stand together on issues important to the members.
"Holding everybody together is tougher than you think," Hubbard said.
When asked about using cloture — a move to stop delays from the other side — Hubbard said "it is certainly a weapon we have."
"We have to learn to be in the majority," he said.
Hubbard said they plan to use the same rules as Democrats regarding the makeup of committees. And with no more than 15 members on each committee, he expects there to be 10 Republican members on those panels. Also, like the Democrats, he expects to have Republicans chairing all of the committees.
Hubbard said the Republicans have been able to grow in large part due to party switchers. He said there were 36 Republicans in the House when he was elected in 1998.
"It hasn't been that long ago since we were definitely in the minority," Hubbard said.
Republicans had 44 members in the House caucus before the Nov. 2 election, but now have 66.
Republicans control 22 of the 35 seats in the Alabama Senate.
Boothe, who was first elected in 1998, said he was inspired, along with the strong statement by voters on Nov. 2, by the friendship he established with Gov.-elect Robert Bentley when they sat next to each other in the Alabama House, where Bentley served for two terms. Boothe said he wants to work with Bentley to pass his conservative agenda rather than against him as part of the "loyal opposition" of Democrats.
Boothe, who represents Pike and Dale counties, said he came to his decision after some "soul searching." He believes he would have switched regardless of which party became the majority.
Vance, who was elected in 1994, was chairman of the House Banking and Insurance Committee for the last eight years.
Hurst, who was first elected in 1998, was convinced to switch by Rogers, a longtime friend. Hurst represents parts of Calhoun and Talladega counties.
"What I'm doing is not for Steve Hurst, it's for the people of my district," he said.
Rogers, a former state legislator from Saks who was minority leader at the time, said he has worked on Vance and Hurst for years.
"These people vote just like a Republican," Rogers said.
Vance, who represents parts of Lee and Russell counties, said going to the Republican Party was really his only option. He said, as he went from polling location to polling location on Nov. 2, that voter after voter told him he was the only Democrat they were voting for and that they would vote straight party if it were not for him.
"These people were telling me something," Vance said.
Millican, who was elected in 1990 and represents Marion and Winston counties, said his district has grown more and more conservative. He said he also talked to Bentley. Millican said Bentley told him that if people question his actions, that they should check his record because it is more conservative than Bentley's.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Four Dems expected to switch parties

Up to four Democrats in the Alabama House of Representatives are expected to announce on Monday that they are switching parties and will join with the Republicans who overwhelmingly took the majority from them in the Nov. 2 election.
"There have been discussions before and after the election with people we have felt like should be on our team and some who have approached us," said Alabama Republican Party Chairman Mike Hubbard. "We have a press conference on Monday."
The House Republican Caucus, in a release, said members would "make an important announcement relating to organization of the Legislature" at 10 a.m. Monday.
State Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, told the Montgomery Advertiser he has not decided whether he will switch, but said he will continue discussions with Republicans through the weekend and until as late as Monday morning.
"I think it is imperative for me, to represent my district in the best possible way, that I keep all avenues open," Boothe said.
"I want to do what I think can help the people of my district the most. All doors are open. I don't think we can shut any doors at this time. ... The decision will be made soon."
Boothe said he sat next to Gov.-elect Robert Bentley, who served two terms as a Republican legislator, for the last eight years at the State House.
"He and I have got to be good friends. He has asked me to carry his program forward for the betterment of this state," Boothe said.
State Rep. Mike Millican, D-Hamilton, told the Tuscaloosa News "the reason I'm switching is as plain as day. The people of Alabama spoke Nov. 2 and not only did the people of the state but the people in my district spoke with authority."
Other House members expected to switch are state Reps. Lesley Vance of Phenix City and Steve Hurst of Munford.
The Advertiser could not reach Millican, Vance or Hurst for comment.
Vance told the News he would not comment until Monday at a press conference.
"We're always open to like-minded conservative people who share our values," Hubbard said. "Our party is always open in talking to people who are interested in switching over. We are not interested in people who would just want to switch to be in the majority or opportunists. If they share our values, they are" welcome.
Hubbard, a state representative from Auburn who is expected to be the next speaker of the House, declined further comment until the Monday announcement.
Republicans currently control the House 62-43.
House committees can have up to 15 members. If those men switch, Republicans could then put 10 members on each panel because the committees are supposed to reflect the political makeup of the chamber.
Republicans, in the House and Senate, would be able to push their agenda through committees and through the full chambers without needing votes from any Democrats.
When asked whether he was concerned about criticism from switching so soon after an election, Boothe said "I hope to be able to represent all of the people. That's what you hold your hand up and say you will do." He said there would be people unhappy with him regardless of his decision.
Boothe did not have any opposition in the last election.
"I just feel like it is time I entertain all avenues and look at all perspectives," he said. "Based on the election and the outcome, I think there was a message sent to Montgomery and I think we better listen to it."

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Love, Armistead to run for GOP chair

State Rep. Jay Love of Montgomery and former state Sen. Bill Armistead of Columbiana said Friday they are running to be the next chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.
Current Chairman Mike Hubbard is expected to be the next speaker of the House and has said he will not run for another term as chairman.
The state executive committee will meet in Montgomery on Feb. 19 to vote on who will be the chairman for the next two years.
Love, a restaurant owner, and Armistead both told the Montgomery Advertiser on Friday that the party was very successful this election and that they wanted to ensure that work continued to not only keep a majority in the Legislature, but to elect more Republicans in courthouses throughout the state. They do not want the party to become too comfortable after its sweeping wins this month.
Armistead said there are two remaining statewide offices held by Democrats, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb and Public Service Commission President Lucy Baxley.
"One of my goals would be making sure we win chief justice and president of the Public Service Commission," he said. " ... I just want to finish the job that has been started."
Baxley beat Armistead for lieutenant governor eight years ago.
Love and Armistead applauded the work of Hubbard and Sen. Del Marsh, who worked alongside the chairman on Campaign 2010, a plan to take control of the Legislature from Democrats for the first time in more than 130 years.
"I just want to continue (Hubbard's) work on the election side of things and try to do everything I can to elect as many Republicans as possible, not just the statewide offices, but the offices at the county courthouse level," Love said. "I think that is where we have a real opportunity in the future."
Armistead, one of several vice chairmen of the state party, said the party has a good future, but "I would not take anything for granted as party chairman." He said some Democrats thought this year was a fluke, but he would work through the next four years to be sure they understand it wasn't a fluke.
Love said he had been thinking about running for about a week and had several people approach him asking him to consider entering the race. He said he talked about it with his wife and they prayed and they decided Friday.
Love wants to help elect more Republican sheriffs, probate judges, local courthouse officials, and "different offices where really the Democrats have dominated over the years."
"Hopefully now we will have an opportunity where there were not any Republican elected officials to elect Republicans," he said.
Armistead and Love both said they want to maintain the conservative principles of the party.
"We saw the national Democrats lose their way once they got control of Congress," Love said. "I just want to make sure that doesn't happen (to Republicans) in Alabama."
Love said the state party chairman helps select the next national chairman.
"I have been very disappointed in Michael Steele's leadership in that position," he said. "I would do everything to ensure we get new leadership in that position."
Armistead, who has been involved in Republican politics since Barry Goldwater in 1964, said he has experience working in the legislative and executive branches, serving as chief economic adviser to Gov. Guy Hunt from 1986 until 1993. He said he knows how government functions and believes he can work with top Republican officials to lead the party.
Armistead works with Fidelity National Information Services, which provides technology to banks throughout the world.
Paul Reynolds, national committeeman for Alabama on the Republican National Committee, said he intended to run for state party chairman and even announced at a Tuesday meeting that he was entering the race, but said he has decided not to because of his business and because of his relationship with Armistead and Love.
Reynolds said he has worked with Armistead in politics for years and has an almost family-like relationship with Love. He said Love helped his wife when she ran against state Sen. Wendell Mitchell in 2006 and that they worked hard to help Love during his 2008 run for Congress. Love narrowly lost to then-Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright.
Reynolds was chairman for the 2nd Congressional District at the time.
"Jay Love is a very well-liked guy for the people who know him," he said.
Reynolds, who lived in Greenville before moving to Birmingham, said the position is essentially a full-time job.
He said following up on the work of Hubbard and Marsh would be a "difficult task for somebody to trump."
"It is all going to be an uphill fight to supersede what they have done," Reynolds said.
While other people have discussed entering the competition for chairman, Reynolds said he expects Love or Armistead to win.
"I don't see anybody else being bold enough to step up to the plate against them," Reynolds said. "Whichever one it is, I will be right there pushing as much as I can with them."
As national committeeman, he said he did not need to announce his support for a candidate and would need to work with the eventual winner. Alabama has three members of the Republican National Committee: its committeeman, its committeewoman and the state chair.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Taylor takes oath of office

Autauga County Probate Judge Al Booth said he and other Republicans there were "giddy" after their first meeting with Bryan Taylor.
"We knew we had a candidate we could get behind and who could win," Booth said.
Taylor, the former policy director for Gov. Bob Riley, did win, convincingly defeating a seven-term Democratic senator.
On Thursday, Booth and other officials from the six counties that Taylor now represents watched in the historic chambers of the House of Representatives at the Capitol as Riley issued the oath of office to Taylor.
Jessica, Taylor's wife, held the Bible during the oath. They are expecting their first child by the end of the year.
Booth called Taylor, 34, and his wife "the future of politics."
Taylor was one of several Republicans who unseated Democrats to take control of the Alabama Senate and the Alabama House. He said he was proud to be part of a "new class of leadership in Montgomery."
Taylor, and many of his Republican colleagues, have vowed sweeping ethics reform to end corruption in Montgomery.
"That's why I got into this race," he said. Taylor believes the election was a "wake-up call," that the people are watching, and asked the dozens present for his oath to "hold my feet to the fire."
He is hoping to achieve many of his campaign goals during a special session that most lawmakers are expecting Riley to call by the end of the year to address ethics reform.
Riley said Taylor first joined him as an aid, traveling with him throughout the state. Later in his time in the administration, Taylor also helped lead the fight against what they believe is illegal gaming in the state.
Riley said he considered Taylor one of the foundations of his administration.
The governor advised Taylor to "come home' if he ever considered acting for political reasons, ever worried about a decision costing him the next election, or just worried about trying to build a consensus.
"Now is when the testing comes," Riley told him. He said too many people worry about their reelection.
Others who attended the event included several members of the Riley administration who served with Taylor including Tom Surtees, director of the Department of Industrial Relations; Art Faulkner, the newly appointed director of the Alabama Department of Homeland Security; and Judge Jim Main of the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, who served as state finance director. Other legislators there included Reps. Paul Beckman, R-Prattville and Alan Boothe, D-Troy, and Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale.
District 30 includes all or part of Autauga, Butler, Crenshaw, Elmore, Lowndes, and Pike counties.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dial will try to repeal pay raise

State Sen. Gerald Dial said Wednesday he would file a resolution to repeal the 62 percent pay raise that state lawmakers voted for themselves almost four years ago.
Dial, R-Lineville, said his resolution would restore the legislative expenses and salaries back to the 2006 level.
As one of their first acts after the 2006 election, lawmakers voted themselves a more than 60 percent increase in compensation in 2007.
"The pay raise granted in 2007 costs the taxpayers some $3 million per year, or $12 million over a four-year period," Dial said. "At the time it was passed, it was a bad idea. It is still a bad idea today with so many Alabamians out of work. Serving in the Alabama Legislature is not a full-time job, and the salaries should reflect that."
The senator said those who give their salary to charity are giving away money that should be returned to taxpayers.
"We all believe in helping charities, but this money belongs to taxpayers and should go to the general fund or education trust fund," he said.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen


Obama names U.S. marshal for south Alabama

President Obama named Charles Andrews as the U.S. marshal for the southern district of Alabama, according to a release from the White House. Andrews is the chief of the Highway Patrol Division of the Alabama Department of Public Safety.
He graduated from the University of Alabama in 1977 with a degree in criminal justice, and he served as a correctional counselor for several years.
Andrews joined the Alabama Department of Public Safety in 1980 and worked his way through the ranks, beginning as a trooper and rising to the position of major, his current rank. During his time with the Alabama Department of Public Safety, he served as its director on an interim basis in 2002.
Obama named six other marshals on Wednesday.
"These dedicated public servants have shown an unwavering commitment to public service," Obama said. "I am pleased to nominate them to serve and protect the American people as U.S. Marshals."

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Shelby, Sessions differ on earmarks

U.S. Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions are not on different sides of many issues, but they voted differently on whether they should ban federal earmarks for two years.
During a meeting of Senate Republicans, Shelby expectedly voted against the measure.
Sessions was a co-sponsor of the measure that Republican senators approved on Tuesday that they believe is necessary to reduce the much-criticized government spending, according to the Associated Press.
Shelby, the senior senator from Tuscaloosa, said the ban would not save taxpayer money and would give the Obama administration more spending authority.
Shelby is well-known for directing hundreds of millions in federal money to projects in Alabama through earmarks.
"He is proud of funding he's brought back to Alabama for math, science, and engineering education, as well as for meritorious projects that will improve law enforcement and crime prevention, promote national security, and continue our nation's space exploration activities," Shelby spokesman Jonathan Graffeo wrote in an e-mail to the Associated Press.
Sessions told The Birmingham News that earmarks are a way for senators to pull together votes for measures they are pushing.
"You want this for your state? We'll put it in there, but you have to vote for the bill, and it might be a budget-busting bill," he said.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Alabama freshmen on watch list

Two Alabama freshmen members of Congress were named by the St. Petersburg Times to the “10 House freshmen to watch,” which the newspaper considers future stars.
Among the more than 90 new members of the U.S. House, the Times suggested for readers to watch Democratic Rep.-elect Terri Sewell of Birmingham and Republican Rep.-elect Martha Roby of Montgomery.
The Times informed its readers that Sewell will be the first black female elected from this state to serve in Congress and that the Princeton University and Harvard law graduate comes from a family of barrier breakers. She is the only Democrat on the Times list.
Roby was considered a top recruit by U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, but had a tough fight to narrowly defeat Democratic freshman U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright.
The Times, unfortunately, did list Roby as a member of the Birmingham City Council. She is currently serving on the Montgomery City Council.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Former lawmaker charged with assault

By Alvin Benn
Special to the Advertiser

CAMDEN — Former state Rep. James Thomas was arrested Wednesday and charged with sexual abuse of a female student at Wilcox Central High School, where he is the principal.

Wilcox County District Attorney Michael Jackson said Wednesday afternoon that Thomas, 67, has been charged with a felony, which carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years on a conviction.

Thomas was arrested at the school Wednesday afternoon and was being booked at the Wilcox County Jail after being taken into custody, a spokeswoman with the sheriff’s department said.

Thomas, who was unavailable for comment Wednesday afternoon, has been principal of the high school for the past 21 years.

Jackson said other charges could be filed against Thomas in the coming days as the investigation proceeds.

“We are stunned and shocked by what has happened,” said school board member Donald McLeod. “He will be placed on administrative leave with pay while this matter is adjudicated.”

McLeod, an attorney in Camden, said he was notified of Thomas’ arrest earlier in the day. He said he was informed that a 17-year-old girl at the school reported the alleged sexual assault to her mother, who then contacted Wilcox County Sheriff Prince Arnold.

Thomas had represented House District 69 in the Legislature since 1982 until his defeat in the Democratic primary in June. He lost his bid for re-election to David Colston of Lowndes County.

The House district encompasses the counties of Autauga, Dallas, Lowndes and Wilcox.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen


Beckman plans to use money from raise for district office, staff

While some Republican legislators who helped ride into office and into the majority slamming a more than 60 percent pay raise that Democrats approved for themselves, new state Rep. Paul Beckman plans to open an office with staff in his district to help constituents.
Beckman defeated state Rep. Mac Gipson of Prattville in the Republican primary. He repeatedly criticized Gipson for voting for the pay raise, which legislators approved in 2007 as one of their first acts of business after the 2006 election.
Beckman, according to a release from his office, is opening the office "so his constituents would always have access in the district and this would not require trying to arrange a time to meet and a trip to the Capitol."
After campaigning on using the money to establish a district office instead of personally pocketing the money, Beckman believes he should keep that promise instead of refusing the increased salary.
"If a vote comes up to repeal the 61 percent increase I will vote in favor of the repeal," Beckman said. "And of course I will vote against any proposed increases in the future. I will add that I am not opposed to refusing the yearly cost of living increase. I made the promise to maintain an office for my constituents because I believe in a transparent and accessible government."
His office will be at 364 East Main St. in Prattville and should soon have a working phone and staff.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Riley continues to fill Cabinet positions

Even though Robert Bentley will be governor in two months, current Gov. Bob Riley continues to fill the positions left by his departing appointees.
Bentley, a Republican, can replace those Cabinet-level positions when he takes office in January.
On Tuesday, Riley's office announced the appointment of Robert D. Church Jr. as Medicaid director and Art Faulkner as director of the Alabama Department of Homeland Security. Both men were already top officials in those departments and were likely candidates.
Church, the chief financial officer at the agency, replaces Carol Steckel, who resigned earlier this month to become the executive director of health care reform for the state of Louisiana. He served as assistant deputy administrator for audit and recovery with the Mississippi Medicaid program before joining Alabama's agency in 2009. Prior to that, he worked as a Certified Public Accountant for 30 years.
Faulkner, the state's 9-1-1 coordinator, replaces Jim Walker, who left to pursue a job in the private sector.
Riley previously appointed Linda Swann as director of the Alabama Development Office, replacing Neal Wade, who left to pursue a job in Florida with his previous employer.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Alabama Dems talk about future

The surviving Democratic members of the Alabama House of Representatives met in downtown Montgomery on Friday afternoon to regroup and look forward after a devastating loss on Nov. 2 that put them in the minority for the first time in more than a century.
They did not elect a minority leader or appoint people to other leadership positions.
They decided they needed to rewrite their charter and would meet on Nov. 30 to adopt a new charter and to vote on leadership.
The meeting, like that of the Republican House and Senate caucuses, was closed to the media. Rep. Marcel Black, a Tuscumbia Democrat who had expressed interest in being speaker of the House if the Democrats won, said the meeting was cleansing and candid.
Black said they agreed they need to be unified.
The former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said they have never had to operate as the minority party so their charter needs to be revamped. The current charter, he said, states that the speaker of the House can appoint to the caucus’ policy committee, which they obviously do not want since the next speaker is expected to be Republican state Rep. Mike Hubbard of Auburn, who is also chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.
Black said the charter was written for a caucus in the majority. Having to revamp their charter, not having an ally in the speaker’s chair, and not having Democrats as chairmen of committees are just some of the major adjustments that Democrats will have to make after losing the majority.
"It's a challenge, but we're resilient," said Rep. Thomas Jackson, D-Thomasville, vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
Jackson said this is an opportunity to find out who the leaders are.
"In this situation, all hope is not lost," he said.
Black admitted that Hubbard was effective as the vocal opposition to the Democratic majority and that he kept Republicans unified when they were in the minority.
"I certainly hope we would be critical and informative when we need to be," Black said.
He said he believes that role is easier when a party is in the minority.
"It's a brave new world," said freshman Rep. Joe Hubbard of Montgomery, who was one of only about a dozen Democrats nationwide to unseat a Republican legislator.
Joe Hubbard said there is now a great opportunity for bridge building and reaching across the aisle. He hopes legislators unify on issues that are important to Alabama residents.
Former House Majority Leader Ken Guin, D-Carbon Hill, presided over the first part of the meeting, which he said was required by the charter. Guin is one of several House Democrats who lost on Nov. 2.
Jackson, as vice chairman of the caucus, presided over the remainder of the meeting since Guin lost his reelection bid.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Roby selects chief of staff

Congresswoman-elect Martha Roby of Montgomery has selected a senior staffer for U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions as her chief of staff.
Roby, a Republican who defeated Democratic freshman U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright in the Nov. 2 election, named Stephen Boyd as her chief of staff on Friday.
Boyd, an Alabama native, is currently the communications director for Sessions. He will manage the Washington, D.C., and Alabama offices for Roby in the 2nd District, which stretches from Autauga and Elmore counties down to the Florida border in southeast Alabama. He will help oversee the legislative agenda and constituent services.
Boyd was chief spokesman for Sessions and managed his state and national communications. With Sessions as the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Boyd handled communication efforts for Republicans on a number of high-profile issues including the appointment of two justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dem chair not stepping down ... yet

Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham said he has not resigned from his position, but is "tired and very ready to move on."
"I told a lot of Democrats privately that I do not plan to serve much longer," Turnham said. He said he did not plan to stay too long after the election regardless of whether Democrats won or lost.
Some rumors circulated in the blogosphere that Turnham stepped down after the drubbing that Democrats received on Nov. 2, but he said that was false.
"I would never just resign and walk out the door," he said.
He attributed the sweeping Democratic losses to the national climate.
"It was a rough day," Turnham said.
Read more of the Montgomery Advertiser's interview with Turnham in the newspaper and online on Sunday. He talks about the upcoming stable of Democratic candidates, about getting new blood into the party, and about successes during his tenure.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Troy King to Riley: "I told you so"

Attorney General Troy King has lashed out at Gov. Bob Riley again in their ongoing dispute over whether King should have filed a lawsuit against BP and other companies alleged to be responsible for the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Riley has been critical of the third party claims system set up by the federal government and BP and administered by Kenneth Feinberg. Riley has said the claims process amounts to "extortion."

"Governor Riley's statement is an admission of what I have told the governor and the public for months; that BP and their multimillion dollar shill, Ken Feinberg, have intended from day one to deceive and exploit Alabamians who have been victimized in order to protect BP and their partners from accountability for their actions," King said in a statement. "If the governor wants to find the real culprit, the person who ran interference for BP, who enabled and encouraged BP and Feinberg in their exploitation and extortion, he need look no further than the nearest mirror. I said it before, and I will say it again; BP easily used Alabama's governor at the expense of Alabama's citizens. Any right thinking person can no longer question that. The only question left unanswered, is why did the governor allow it?"

King sued BP and the other companies. Riley has criticized the move and said the state should negotiate and try to secure as much money as possible, and then sue if the payouts are not sufficient.

Riley and BP officials have said the lawsuit has hindered negotiations.

King has repeatedly said BP is not negotiating in good faith.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Republicans select Hubbard, Marsh as leaders

The two men who were the faces of the Republican effort to take over the Alabama House and Senate from Democrats for the first time in more than 130 years were rewarded with top leadership posts by their new majority on Thursday.
House Republicans selected Alabama Republican Party Chairman Mike Hubbard, who is also a state representative from Auburn, as their choice to be the next speaker of the House.
Senate Republicans voted for Sen. Del Marsh of Anniston to be the president pro tem when they organize. The pro tem is the most powerful member of the chamber who helps with assigning bills and managing the body.
With Republicans holding 22 of the 35 seats in the Senate, Marsh is expected to be approved by the full Senate when the members organize either in January or in a special session called by the governor before that.
Sen. Jabo Waggoner of Vestavia Hills was selected as majority leader.
Hubbard is considered the architect of Campaign 2010, the Republican plan to raise money and take control of the Legislature from Democrats for the first time in more than 130 years. Republicans hold 62 seats in the 105-member House.
Marsh helped raise money for the Republican effort to take control of the Legislature.
The Republicans unanimously voted for Hubbard even though there had been talk of another candidate entering the race. Rep. Paul DeMarco of Homewood and some other members had privately expressed interest in becoming speaker and talked to other members trying to win over their support.
But on Thursday at their meeting, no one offered up another candidate.
Members had also discussed voting for speaker and then for speaker pro tem, but then decided only to vote for speaker on Thursday, giving new members an opportunity to know the potential candidates before voting.
State Rep. Jay Love of Montgomery said they recognized with the hard work and organizational skills of Hubbard "that he would be our best choice for speaker."
Waggoner said Marsh would be an effective pro tem. He said his colleague is knowledgeable about issues, is a "good debater," and has proven leadership capabilities.
Marsh, 54, is the president of two companies, Aerospace Coating and Industrial Plating, which employee a total of about 150 people, he said. He is in his fourth term.
Marsh said he would be able to bring people together.
Both Marsh and Hubbard were elected in separate closed-door caucus meetings.
Republican governor-elect Robert Bentley said he met at his Tuscaloosa home on Wednesday with the people who expressed interest in being speaker, Hubbard and DeMarco.
He said he did not impose his will on legislators as they elected their leadership, but was trying to be a "peacemaker" and trying to "smooth things out" in the House delegation, where he felt there was contention. Bentley said he believed the situation had been resolved with a power sharing agreement.
"I really support whoever the caucus votes for," Bentley said after addressing the Senate caucus during the meeting at the Alabama Forestry Association. "It is their right to decide their leadership."
Bentley said he thought Hubbard "had done a good job" leading the party up to the election.
Hubbard, 48 and president of the Auburn Network Inc., is in his fourth term as a legislator. He has served as minority leader in the Alabama House for six years and as chairman of the state party for four years.
Hubbard said his role as chairman was to get as many Republicans elected as possible and to be the "tough guy," but he said speaker "won't be a partisan position" and is more about governing.
"I am looking forward to taking off that partisan hat," he said.
The new leaders said Thursday that their priorities would be ethics, and efforts such as tax incentives to help small businesses.
Waggoner said they did not decide on committee posts at the Thursday meeting and he said those would be decided between now and December.
Waggoner and other senators said there was no conflict between Marsh and Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale, who challenged him for the pro tem position.
"They are on the same page," Waggoner said. "We are all on the same team."
Marsh said Beason would be in a leadership position "where he chooses to work."
After the original vote, the Republican senators voted again for the victor to ensure there was unanimous support for the pro tem selection.
Sen. Bryan Taylor of Prattville said he was glad to see men "approach such an important issue with mutual respect."
Sen. Dick Brewbaker of Pike Road said he was happy the caucus is "of one mind" and said it is a great step forward "for everybody to agree on the basic agenda."
Beason said he was not successful, but was glad they came back and voted unanimously for Marsh. He said he has learned that while sometimes someone might lose individually, "you have to remember it's about the cause."
Marsh said they all pledged when they ran for office that they would support the nominee of the caucus.
"Once we agree as a caucus, we're unanimous," he said.
When he addressed his colleagues on Thursday morning before they met behind closed doors, Waggoner said "I have been waiting for this (takeover) for 20 years."
"This is a dream come true for a lot of us," said Waggoner, who was previously the minority leader. Waggoner has been a member of the Legislature since 1966.
Pat Harris, assistant secretary of the Senate, spoke to the group along with Bentley and incoming lieutenant governor Kay Ivey. Waggoner and Marsh said they needed help from Harris and others because they have never been in the majority and never been through this transition.
Bentley told the members he knew the Senate had been dysfunctional, but he was hopeful.
He also said he was hopeful that the Republicans would not operate like Democrats and would not be vindictive now that they are in the majority. Bentley also said they should not serve lobbyists and the special interests.
Bentley, a two-term state legislator from Tuscaloosa, said he wants to stay in close communication with legislators and is also reaching out to Democrats. He named outgoing Democratic House Speaker Seth Hammett to his transition team.
Most of the Senate Republicans participated in a ceremonial swearing in in the historic House chamber in the Capitol on Thursday. Waggoner told people in attendance they were witnessing history.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Republicans vote Hubbard as choice for next speaker

House Republicans selected Alabama Republican Party Chairman Mike Hubbard, who is also a state representative from Auburn, as their choice to be the next speaker of the House. The full House will vote when the Legislature convenes to organize in January or before in a special session.
Hubbard and Rep. Paul DeMarco of Homewood were both considered candidates for the job.
Hubbard is considered the architect of Campaign 2010, the Republican plan to raise money and take control of the Legislature from Democrats for the first time in more than 130 years.
Republicans easily took control of the House and the Senate from Democrats on Tuesday.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

Republicans select Marsh as Senate leader

Senate Republicans voted Thursday for Sen. Del Marsh of Anniston to be the president pro tem of the Senate when they organize.
With Republicans holding 22 of the 35 seats in the Senate, Marsh is expected to receive that vote from senators when they organize either in January or in a special session called by the governor before that.
Sen. Jabo Waggoner of Vestavia Hills was selected as majority leader.
Marsh helped raise money for the Republican effort to take control of the Alabama House of Representatives and the Senate.
During a caucus meeting at the Alabama Forestry Association, Republicans selected Marsh over Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale, who also entered his name in the race.
The pro tem helps the lieutenant governor to assign bills to committee and has other management responsibilities.
During the Thursday meeting, Republicans also heard from governor-elect Robert Bentley and state Treasurer Kay Ivey, who was elected lieutenant governor on Tuesday.
Republicans in the House of Representatives are also expected to select their choice as speaker of the House during meetings today.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gov.- elect Bentley Announces Transition Team

Less than 24 hours after his election, Governor-elect Robert Bentley has announced the names of a group of individuals from around Alabama who will assist in his transition to the State House, according to a Wednesday press release.

"This transition team is made up of people representing a broad cross-section of community and state leaders in Alabama,” Bentley said Wednesday afternoon. "They will be working with me over the next two months to help identify strategies to accomplish the goals of our administration. They will also help me identify the most qualified people who are willing to join us to bring about the positive changes the voters called for in this election.

"This is an outstanding leadership team, one that shares my priorities to put Alabama back to work and move our state forward,” Bentley said.

Members of Governor-elect Bentley's transition team are:

Charles McCrary, (Transition Team Chairman), President and CEO, Alabama Power Company, Birmingham

Lynn Beshear, Executive Director, Envision 2020, Montgomery

Dr. David Bronner, Chief Executive Officer, Retirement Systems of Alabama, Montgomery

Terry Bunn, S T Bunn Construction, Tuscaloosa

David Cooper, Sr. Vice Chairman, Cooper/T. Smith Corporation, Mobile

Brig. Gen. Ed Crowell (ret), Senior Vice President of Administration, V.T. Miltope, Pike Road

Dr. Marquita Davis, Commissioner, Department of Children’s Affairs, Montgomery

Sam H. Givhan, Partner, Wilmer & Lee, Huntsville

Speaker Seth Hammett, Vice President of Business Development, PowerSouth Energy, Andalusia

John Johns, Chairman, President and CEO, Protective Life Corporation, Birmingham

John J. McMahon, Jr. Chairman, Ligon Industries, LLC, Birmingham

Dr. Cathy Randall, Director Emerita, UA Computer-Based Honors Program, Tuscaloosa

Steve Shaw, President, Couch USA, Dothan

Guice Slauson, Sr. President, Southeast Wood Treating, Inc, Montgomery

Rep. Elwyn Thomas, Oneonta

Irma Tuder, Founder, Analytical Services, Inc. Huntsville

Marc Tyson, President, Ready Mix, USA, Birmingham

Edgar Welden, retired businessman, Birmingham

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks