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Hartselle Enquirer

The battle between AEA and Riley is on

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–The closest thing we have had to World War III in Alabama politics has erupted in Montgomery. On one side, firing away with all the weapons at his command, is Gov. Bob Riley. On the other side is Dr. Paul Hubbert, the all-powerful head of the Alabama Education Association, a.k.a. the teachers union. He has got his stockpile of weapons of mass political destruction as well,
The cause of this ugly and getting-uglier dispute is the education budget Riley has sent to the Legislature for consideration. Riley would have you believe it is the best budget ever proposed for Alabama schools,
Dr. Hubbert would have you believe otherwise.
Riley and Hubbert are at odds over two critical provisions in the budget. One is transferring a number of programs now financed out of the hard-pressed General Fund into the Special Education Trust Fund. This amounts to about a $70 million shift in spending. The other issue between the two men is a proposed pay raise for teachers. Hubbert is asking for a 7 percent raise, Riley says 4 percent is all the state can afford.
Hubbert would have you believe that the pay raise differences between he and the governor is not the big issue…that what most concerns him is the proposal to use that $70 million for what he considers are non-education programs. Maybe so, maybe not.
How this battle will end remains in doubt, but comes to mind an old expression: In a fight between you and the world, bet on the world.
And on Goat Hill that could be paraphrased: In a fight between Paul Hubbert and anybody…bet on Paul.
I am not talking about how far it would take him financially…his tracks in Shorter and Birmingham have made him millions… but how far geographically.
McGregor is one of a group of businessmen who is financing a $300 million venture to launch a national lottery in Russia. Legalized gambling has been widespread in Russia for years, and President Vladimir Putin recently signed a new law authorizing a national lottery. In fact McGregor and two of his associates went to Russia recently where they were awarded Medals of Honor in recognition of their efforts to promote economic development between the United States and Russia. How does McGregor feel about this venture into Russia?
"It's been a long time since I've been any more excited about a business project."
The question is being asked again in Montgomery. Rep. Lucius Black, D-York, has been so ill that he has been able to attend only a few legislative meetings during the past two years. In fact, records show he has not been present for any legislative meeting since the first part of the 2003 session. As far as the Constitution is concerned, there is nothing in that document which gives the Legislature or a court the right to remove Rep. Black from office.
House Clerk Greg Pappas told the Associated Press that he had received "many, many calls" from residents of Black's district asking what could be done so they could be represented. Pappas said he told them "there' s really nothing you can do."