Riley's monument stand may widen religious divide
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY-They are in no way related issues, but there is a political umbilical cord linking the Ten Commandments controversy and the Riley tax package.
The strongest link is the role being played on those two issues by the Christian Coalition of Alabama-it has been in the forefront of the fight in support of the monument and has been no less outspoken in its opposition to the tax plan. And while that organization is by no means a major power broker in Alabama politics, its position on the two issues has probably given some fence-straddlers reason enough to vote against the tax-accountability proposal.
There is another link. Gov. Riley's stand on the monument debate has not pleased the Roy Moore fans.
He says he is for the monument but opposed to Moore defying a court order. That is not enough to please the protesters and they have demanded he resign.
The fact is the timing of the monument debacle couldn't have been worse for the tax referendum, not that it will make a lot of difference.
The tracking polls (those done on a daily basis to pick up any trends) show an ever-widening gap. They indicate a landslide vote against the package…and in my trade a landslide is described as 55 percent -45 percent or worse.
It likely will be worse than that.
An aside to this affair: When is the Judicial Inquiry Commission going to hear the case against Moore, and what is his likely fate? Moore has been suspended from his office by the JIC and that group has the authority to strip him of his office.
In fact, there is already speculation as to who Gov. Riley might appoint to the vacancy if Moore is dis-robed.
Politically…and be certain there is a lot of politics in this debate…it probably would be to Moore's advantage to be booted out of office. If he isn't viewed as a martyr now by many people, he surely would be then.
It has been the longest and most costly litigation in state history.
The case has cost the state more than $250 million in fines and legal fees.
The checks issued last week went to some 1,800 defendants, all black.
A number of white plaintiffs who joined the case later will be paid about $8.4 million later this fall.
Jere Beasley (1971-79), George McMillan (1979-83), Bill Baxley (1983-87) and Steve Windom (1999-2003) all sang the praises of the tax-accountability plan and warned of dire consequences if the measure failed.
If there was any significance to this gathering it was the endorsement of the package by Baxley, who is a close advisor to his former wife, the incumbent Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley. She has remained out of the fray but it is unlikely he would have taken his stand without her knowledge and consent. One other former lieutenant governor, Albert Brewer (1967-68) has endorsed the plan but was unable to attend the reunion. Not present were former Lt. Govs. Don Siegelman and Jim Folsom Jr.
Dr. Wayne Flynt, the Distinguished Professor of History at Auburn University and a lay Baptist preacher, was asked his views of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, one of the outspoken opponents of the proposal: "The Christian Coalition of Alabama is Alfa with a steeple."'
There have been charges that the Christian Coalition is funded in large part by Alfa.