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Hundreds gather to honor Bronner

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–Several hundred folks gathered in this city last week to pay homage to Dr. David Bronner, the love-him-or-hate-him CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama. (RSA).
The occasion marked his 30th anniversary as head of the RSA, which is to say he is no longer the "Whiz Kid" which he once was called.
A whiz, perhaps, but not a kid. He is now 58 years old and a card-carrying member of the AARP.
While there is no middle ground on Bronner…some insist he is the greatest thing since sliced bread, others think his doctorate degree is in self-promotion….say this for the man: He has certainly livened up the state governmental and political scene during his three decades in Montgomery.
He has never run from a fight in his life, in fact there have been times when it appeared he would start a fight simply to get a little press attention.
And speaking of the press, no man in my years on the scene has developed such a cozy relationship with the media. He has played us all like a piano. We know we are being used but we can't seem to resist it.
Exampe: Several months ago I was interviewed for a cover story done by a trade magazine on Dr. Bronner. I was quoted as saying he was so vain he had 13 scrapbooks in his office, which contained glowing tributes to him.
After the story was published, Bronner called to complain. "Ingram…I don't have 13 scrapbooks…I have 35 of them."
How can you not like a guy like that?
There are few, if any, rags-to-riches stories to match that of Scrushy.
A quarter of a century ago he was an $18,000-a-year respiratory therapist at a Selma hospital but he saw a vacuum that needed to be filled. He launched a network of rehabilition clinics which became the largest in the world. Health-South was one of the biggest employers in the state with more than 3,500 workers in Birmingham alone.
Now come charges of massive accounting fraud. HealthSouth stock…priced at $15.90 a share last May was at 11 cents a week ago and no longer being traded.
While Scrushy and some of his top execs face serious criminal charges, the real losers are thousands of people who were counting on their HealthSouth stock for their retirement.
And while these people wonder what the future will hold for them they read that Scrushy was paid more than $34 million in bonuses during the past decade.
The Good Book tells us that the worst of sins is blasphemy, but a close second has to be greed.
Currently employees get $75 a day for travel expenses, which means if they are gone overnight they get $150. They get that amount whether they actually spend that much or not. No receipts, no nothing.
Riley has cut the per diem to $50 per day and $100 for an overnight trip.
One loophole he didn't close is a requirement that the employees turn in receipts for their expenses.
As a matter of fact, many state workers actually make money when they travel. It is so common place that employees have come to consider it one of the perks of their job.
The coin was unveiled at a ceremony at Miss Keller's home in Tuscumbia last week. It is the first coin ever issued by the U. S. Mint, which includes Braille.
This distinction will likely make it the No. 1 collectable of all the quarters issued.