Columnist considers Reed a racist
Bob Ingram, Capitol Scene
MONTGOMERY — Political correctness be damned, it is time to tell it like it is. Joe Louis Reed, the long time black political power boss, is a racist — a card-carrying racist.
Any doubt was surely erased when he showed his true colors last week.
At issue was a contested legislative race in Birmingham where, heaven forbid, a white woman was elected to represent a predominantly black district.
Reed, the founder and chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference, the state's oldest black political organization, had played a leading role in drawing legislative district lines to ensure the election of black legislators. And the thought of one of those districts being represented by a white was more than he could stand.
In a run-off election for the Democratic nomination for the House of Representative the winner was Patricia Todd. She it is not only openly gay, which was not an issue in the controversy that erupted, but she is quite white.
With the powerful Reed calling the shots, a five-member subcommittee of the state Democratic Executive Committee voided her nomination; but a few days later the entire Committee reinstated her nomination.
Reed never made any bones about what his motives were. He didn't want a white representing a predominantly black district and he said so. His efforts were so offensive that some of his normally strong supporters turned their backs on him. State Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, who is considered by many whites as the most racist of all legislators, voted against Reed. So did Dr. Paul Hubbert, Reed's boss at the Alabama Education Association.
One cannot help but wonder what the reaction would have been if a major figure in the white political structure of Alabama sought to void the nomination of a black who had been elected to represent a predominantly white district.
You can bet an effort like that would have attracted national attention in the media and surely brought the likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and who knows who else to Alabama to vent their outrage.
Joe Reed could retire today from his AEA job and draw in excess of $225,000 a year in retirement for the rest of his life, not to mention a one-time Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) payment of close to $1 million. Perhaps it is time he considers doing just that.
I speak of a half-dozen or so races for the state Senate, the outcomes of which will determine who will control that upper chamber for the next four years.
The Democrats have the upper hand presently; they hold 25 seats to only 10 by the Republicans.
However, because of the defection of a handful of Democrats on many key issues, the Democratic majority is much slimmer than the numbers might suggest.
There are three Senate races in November which are considered most critical: Sen. Pat Lindsey, a Democrat, faces a stern challenge from Republican John McMillan in Dist. 22; in neighboring Mobile County Sen. Gary Tanner, a Democrat, has his hands full with Republican challenger Ben Brooks; and in the Tennessee Valley there is a hot fight between Republican Arthur Orr of Decatur and Morgan County Probate Judge Bobby Day, the Democrat nominee. They are seeking the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Tommy Ed Roberts.
How these races go could decide how the Senate of 2007 goes.
It would not be inappropriate if Alabamians were tempted to start chanting “We're No. 2,” after a survey was released last week that the people of Alabama rank second only to Mississippi as the fattest in the nation.
The “fatness” survey was conducted by the nonprofit Trust for America's Health, a national health advocacy group.
While the results provoked more chuckles than anything else, it was considered no laughing matter by Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Donald Williamson.
He noted that one in every 10 Alabamians suffers from diabetes, a disease closely linked to being overweight.