|Man's best fiend?|
Dr. Jerome Williams, appointed to the Alabama A&M board by Governor Riley, hasn't wasted any time starting controversy in his new position. At least he's consistent.
HUNTSVILLE, AL -- The controversy over the Alabama A&M University Research Institute reached a new level Friday when a school trustee fired insults at another trustee.
The comments from trustee Jerome Williams of Birmingham came at the end of a 35-minute discussion at Friday's board meeting that centered on the research institute. The institute, formed in 1999 to handle millions in private and government research contracts on behalf of NASA, the Defense Department and numerous companies, has been the subject of an FBI investigation and an inquiry by A&M's accrediting agency.
Allegations have flown regarding possible misuse of funds at the institute, and a conflict of interest by Board President Pro Tem Odysseus Lanier, whose company once held contracts with the institute. Lanier has denied any wrongdoing.
The discussion Friday revolved, in part, around trustees questioning the value of the research institute and how worthwhile the partnership is to A&M.
"You lack credibility in this circle," Williams said to fellow trustee Rev. Tom Bell as the board sat around a horseshoe table at the Clyde Foster Multipurpose Room on the A&M campus. Bell is also a member of the research institute board of directors.
"You have demonstrated by your conspiring nature with (fellow trustee James) Montgomery you are not trustworthy," Williams continued. "You have demonstrated that again and again from what you have done, including going to Montgomery to tell lies (to state senators, which must confirm trustees) against the confirmation of trustee members."
At that point, a murmur rippled throughout the stunned audience in the room.
"My, my, my," Bell responded as the murmur grew louder. "My goodness. My goodness."
Dr. Williams knows a thing or two about controversy and we're still trying to figure out how this unfriendly to those he is supposed to protect veterinarian who's seemingly somewhat of a conspirator himself, ever got this plum job with A&M. Oh that's right, Riley, in another fine example of his stellar judgment, appointed him. That clears it up.
Who is Dr. Jerome Williams? A man who seems to prefer to protect his friends at the expense of defenseless animals. He was involved in an egregious case of animal abuse in the early 2000s, and largely because of his expert medical opinion, then Birmingham City Council president Lee Loder got away with horrendous acts of cruelty.
According to a police report filed September 26, Lee Loder’s dog was The animal was chained up in a fenced-in area out of reach of shelter due to the chain being “wrapped and hooked on his neck,” according to the report, which added that the dog was soaked and shivering after two days of rain. Animal cruelty officer Dana Johnston, who investigated the case, called Birmingham-Jefferson County Animal Control, which impounded the dog until October 10, reported by Paul Clark, a carpenter working in the neighborhood.
Clark described the dog, a 60-pound mixed breed named Stokely, as “skin and bones. I saw the condition of the dog. You had a chain that was so knotted up it was like a rigid bar. It wouldn’t even sag. For me that’s inexcusable . . . He had severely limited movement. I’d be surprised if he had more than a three or four foot radius that he could maneuver in . . . The dog’s ribs were sticking out and its eyes were sunk in. The dog was right at the point of starvation.” The police report confirmed that the dog appeared to be starving and was so emaciated that “all bony prominences [were] evident from a distance.”when it was released into the custody of Loder’s veterinarian, Dr. Jerome Williams (who will eventually return the dog to Loder).
|BCC Loder's dog Stokley when found|
Williams examined the dog within 24 hours after impoundment. “I found the heart worms. I was told by the vet [at animal control] that she found intestinal worms and fleas.” Williams wrote in a letter regarding his observations to Judge Barnes, “Based on my personal observations of Stokely’s demeanor, his age, his vital indicators, his laboratory tests, and his medical history, I am of the opinion that the animal’s condition at the time of his impoundment was within acceptable normal range.” In an interview the day after the case’s dismissal, Williams described the dog as underweight when taken to animal control, but added that “skin and bones” was not a description that he would use, as the police report had.
Judge Barnes was later admonished and censured (with pay and a job) for his ruling.
Birmingham Municipal Judge David Barnes admitted Monday he violated judicial ethics when handling an animal cruelty case against City Council President Lee Loder.Lee Loder was on the board of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society and never removed for his blatant cruelty to his dog.
The Court of the Judiciary is sued an order Monday of public censure against Barnes, accepting a plea agreement that Barnes submitted last week to avoid a hearing Wednesday on 21 charges of judicial ethics violations. Barnes accepted the public reprimand and is allowed to return to the bench immediately without loss of pay or benefits, said Charlie Waldrep, his attorney. Waldrep said the order against Barnes centered on his relationship with Loder professionally, as judge and council member. It did not cite him for a conflict based on their personal relationship as fraternity brothers who had known each other in that capacity for about six years, Waldrep said.
Other charges Barnes faced were dropped, including his refusing public access to Loder's case file, holding an improper hearing and dismissing the case against Loder without allowing the city to present arguments (2003 Birmingham News Record Number: 15220512)
The system fell apart at every level for Stokely. His tormentors never faced the charges they should have for what they did to him. It was a maddeningly frustrating case for many observers and no one has pressed Dr. Williams on the issue since.
For a veterinarian to say the things that Dr. Williams did about this poor dog, who had supposedly been under his care since 1996, he's either one of two things: damn near blind or he was protecting someone. Obviously it was not the dog, Stokley, which should have been his first priority as a veternerian.
Williams should do well in his new position with the notorious history of the Alabama A&M board. Clearly, given its glaring problems, men of honor and ethics need not apply. In fact, if you behave badly then all the better, you'll be rewarded as you move along your political way, courtesy of the goats at the top of Corruption Hill.
But William's is really pushing it starting controversy so early in his appointment based on his own past, and in our opinions, Dr. Williams has no business calling anyone a conspirator and untrustworthy.
Ironically, the page for William's practice, Red Mountain Animal Clinic, uses the slogan "Happy Trails." We bet Stokely might have a thing or two to say, if he could, about that nonsense.
This story is just another brick in the high wall of corruption that surrounds Alabama.
So Say We The Opinion Board Of The Vincent Alabama Confidential