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State employees get bad news

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–Gov. Bob Riley has told state employees what they should have known without being told–don't hold your breath waiting on a pay raise. It ain't going to happen.
With the General Fund in desperate condition, Riley said any raise at this time is out of the question.
"We appreciate and care about our state employees and this move is not intended to be punitive," Riley said. "It is simply a necessary step in solving the largest fiscal crisis our state has ever faced."
It stands to reason that in short order the governor will send the same memo to teachers and school support personnel as well. If anything, the Special Education Trust Fund is in even worse shape.
And while few have the political courage to say it, one of the major causes for the enormous shortfall in the SETF were the generous pay raises given to teachers during the Siegelman Administration.
At his insistance the Legislature approved a plan to raise the salaries of teachers to the national average over a period of years. The pay raise given to the teachers under the first year of that law was a major cause for the proration that followed.
After years of wrangling, AU supporters won approval of a constitutional amendment which would give them a louder voice in the trustee selection process.
More importantly, it would give them an opportunity to replace some members on that board.
A few months ago the nominating committee came up with two proposed new trustees: Elmer Harris, the retired Alabama Power exec, to replace State Rep. Jack Venable of Tallassee, and, much more importantly to many Auburnites, Dr. Neil Chrsitopher of Guntersville to replace the controversial State Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe.
Guess what? The Senate Confirmation Committee has rejected the nominations of both Harris and Dr. Christopher.
State Sen. E. B. McLain, D-Midfield, who chairs the committee, recommended the rejection of Harris and Christopher because he feels the board should be more racially diverse.
Both the nominees are white.
The nominating committee indicated earlier in the week it was considering the nomination of Jerry Smith for a third vacant seat on the board. Smith is black.
Whether this appointment…if made…will satisfy the Senate Confirmation Committee remains to be seen.
The feeling persists that Sen. Barron is not going to give up his seat on the board without a fight.
Four years ago, as his term neared an end, outgoing Gov. Fob James, a Reublican, made a number of appointments to boards and commissions. When those nominations came to the Senate Confirmation Committee for approval it was McLain who scoffed at them–he insisted those appointments should be made by the new governor, Don Siegelman, a Democrat.
Now the shoe is on the other foot. Outgoing Gov. Siegelman made more than 50 last-minute appointments which Gov. Riley would like to be rejected so he can make appointments of his own choosing.
Guess who made the motion last week that all of the Siegelman appointments be confirmed in one fell stroke? The same Sen. McLain.
What's good for the goose…the Democrat goose…is not necessarily good for the gander…the Republican gander.
What Riley could have said of McLain but didn't–I don't like his face…either one of them.
Less than two months after assuming office he was faced with
deciding the fate of Michael E. Thompson, who was given the death
sentence for the 1984 murder of a convenience store clerk.
Riley did not grant clemency and Thompson died by lethal injection,
the second to die by that method of execution.
The crime Thompson was convicted of was uncommonly brutal.
He kidnapped the clerk from the store in Attalla, took her to Blount
County where he threw her in a well and emptied his revolver into her
body. Later he returned to the scene and repeatedly shot her again.

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