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Hartselle Enquirer

Report card varies on latest legislative work

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–The dust has now settled from the 2004 regular session of the Alabama Legislature and the report cards handed out varied widely…depending on who did the grading.
Some of the legislative leadership…notably Senate President Pro Tem Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe–gave the lawmakers high marks. He said they were very "accountable" in passing balanced budgets for schools and the General Fund.
His use of the word "accountable" was significant because accountability legislation was the top priority of Gov. Bob Riley, but he was singularly unsuccessful in his efforts.
A total of 40 accountability proposals were introduced…22 by the Riley Administration and 17 by Democrats…but only three relatively insignificant ones were passed.
Now there is talk that Riley may call the lawmakers back to Montgomery this summer to consider his accountability proposals again.
Barring an about face in the thinking of the Democrat-controlled legislature, there is nothing to suggest that a special session would be little more than a waste of time and money.
An overwhelming majority of legislators favored the proposal, but it died because Democrats did not want to submit it to the people for a vote until 2006. They feared if it was on the November General Election ballot it might attract lots of conservatives to the polls who while there would likely vote for President Bush.
There is already a law on the books in Alabama prohibiting same-sex marriages.
Chief Judge Harold Albritton of the Middle District of Alabama notified the President last week that he will go on senior active status. This means Bush must name a new judge…subject to Senate confirmation….to fill that vacancy.
Judge Albritton, an Andalusia native, was appointed to the federal court in 1991 by the President's father.
Predictably, one of the first questions asked Dr. Alsobrook was if there would be any material in the library/museum relating to President Clinton's publicized affair with Monica Lewinsky. It was that scandal which resulted in Clinton's impeachment by the House. He was subsequently acquitted by the Senate.
Alsobrook insisted the library "would not avoid" the scandal but added that much of the evidence accumulated in the investigation of Clinton…including the celebrated stained blue dress…were not available.
That's a pity. Without question the display of that dress…and perhaps a cigar or two…would have surely been the most visited of the exhibits.
Three men wanted for kidnapping and the wounding of a man were thought to be hiding in a vacant house.
The house was surrounded by dozens of law enforcement officers and a breathless TV reporter described in great detail the steps that would be followed to apprehend the wanted men. A bullhorn was used to try to persuade the men to surrender, then a red telephone was thrown through a window to be used for verbal negotiation.
After all this failed, tear gas canisters were fired through the windows, then officers stormed the house. The three wanted men were not there and there was no evidence they had ever been there. The next day the owner of the house was trying to find out who would pay for the considerable damage done to his rental property.

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