Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Measure of a Man

*Updated--see comment #5
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy-- MLK

We did some thinking on Senator Trip Pittman's weak offering of explanations about why he was not to blame for what he did when he personally gained from the BP Oil Spill money allotted to Baldwin County.
"I probably should have recused myself and tasked someone else with that responsibility," Pittman, R-Montrose, told members of the Press-Register Editorial Board. 
Pittman said he had not received ethics training until recently, and in hindsight, would have acted differently, although he said "no laws were broken." 
If we go with the meaning of Martin Luther's quote there's really no defense for what Pittman did. He has shown his measure of integrity to be set so low that he is, self admittedly, incapable of doing the right thing unless he has mandated training in how to behave ethically.

It is the position of a fool who admits no conceptual understanding of right and wrong, but what is even more troubling is that a man, so devoid of self governing principles, is elected to the position of an Alabama State Senator, and is charged with making consequential decisions on the behalf of thousands of constituents and even more Alabamians during the legislative session.

Somewhere along the way, in the political process, this tractor ran off the road and so far into the ditch that it's become unrecoverable. And it appears that real justice for Pittman went right along with it.

The voters who elected Pittman to office bear some responsibility in this wreck, but it was ultimately Pittman who sank to new lows (some may say the same lows we have always had in Alabama politics) and betrayed each and every one of his constituents.

And now that he is caught, he refuses to 'man up' and take responsibility for what he's done and is hiding in the hole of the rats in charge of the Alabama Ethics Commission. In fact, he's going right ahead with another Pittman pit job in the controversial Foley Beach Express.
He said he supported the Beach Express project as the county’s priority, but did not want the other projects abandoned if state funding could be found.
He said his investment property and possible personal gain was never his motivation and "not relevant in the decision" to push for those projects. 
Press-Register Editor Mike Marshall told Pittman that it is "our job to point out potential conflicts of interest" and suggested that Pittman could "recuse yourself from advocating projects that benefit you personally." 

What will Pittman do, take his advice? Probably not, but what will his excuse be for jumping from the fire (oil boom contract) and into the frying pan known as the Foley Beach Express?
You cannot claim that you don't know better Senator because of a lack of learning proper ethics training when your constituents have given you a crash course (ethics complaint and growing outrage) in what they will and will not accept from their senator.

In the measure of a man test you have failed miserably Senator Pittman and we suggest that it's time for you to take your tractor and go home.

So Say We The Opinion Board Of The Vincent Alabama Confidential
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  1. Outstanding Max! Here! Here!
    Thanks so much for covering this story, you've done on heck a great service to us and we appreciate it.

  2. Pittman is the epitome of a willful child who has been spolied by his parents and when that same child supposedly grows up, they maintain their slanted view of the rules apply to everyone else.
    His behaivor, after the fact, has been absolutley atrocious and has made a bad situation even worse.
    I agree, time to go Trip.

  3. You hit the tractor on the bucket. Out of the barn senator.

  4. If Mr. Sumner insists on sullying the entire message behind the new ethics laws, then let him be shown the door with Trip.
    Clearly he is not suitable to act as head of the dogcatchers league, much less being in charge of ethics investigations in Alabama.

  5. Things are heating up to interesting levels.
    Reprinted with permission:

    -For Immediate Release-
    Contact: Francis P. Ripp
    February 3, 2011
    For More INFO: (334) 669-0497

    Fairhope, Alabama Citizen Files Ethics Complaint Against Alabama Ethics Commission to the Alabama Ethics Commission

    On February 3, 2011, Francis Paul Ripp, filed an ethics complaint against the Alabama Ethics Commission to the Alabama Ethics Commission, led by James Sumner and Hugh Evans, III, alleging a lack of ethics in their previous verbal statements to him regarding the ongoing investigation of Senator Lee “Trip” Pittman and the City of Fairhope in the dubious award of the BP Oil Spill boom contract.

    On December 20, 2010 Francis “Paul” Ripp spoke by phone with Mr. Hugh Evans of the Alabama Ethics Commission about a citizen group filing a new complaint. Ripp originally filed a complaint to the Ethics Commission on September 27th.

    Ripp asked Mr. Hugh Evans two specific questions during their noted phone conversation on December 20th:
    1) “Was the new complaint under any filing time restrictions or deadlines?” Mr. Evans answered “No.”
    The second question Mr. Ripp asked Mr. Evans on the 20th was:
    “Will the new Ethics Legislation recently passed by the legislature apply to this case?” Mr. Evans answered, “Yes.”

    Ripp learned by reading his local newspaper, The Fairhope Courier, on Wednesday, February 2nd that the second complaint he filed in January 2011 is a duplicate complaint by him, and thus will not be considered under the new more stringent ethical guidelines passed by the Alabama legislature last fall.

    This is the opinion of Mr. Sumner, not the newly-elected Alabama Attorney General, Luther Strange.

    Sumner was quoted in the Fairhope Courier article dated February 1, 2011, by Mike Odom, “Those provisions would only apply to cases where the complaint was filed after the law was enacted…“They would not apply retroactively to something that was filed last year. They would only apply to cases filed after Jan. 1.”

    Ripp claims that the Ethics Commission is demonstrating a severe lack of ethics when they contacted only his hometown newspaper—and not the rest of the state media—to promulgate their decision not to go after Pittman.

    Says Ripp:
    “It certainly appears that not only has the Ethics Commission abruptly changed their tune regarding the investigation of Mr. Pittman, they have resorted to using the Fairhope Courier to dilute substantial ethical breach allegations against an elected public official—which is the antithesis of what they are supposed to be doing.”

    EMAIL combat veteran F. PAUL RIPP: fpripp1@gmail.com

  6. I feel like I am watching a crazy train wreck backwards..none of this makes sense and the behavior of Pittman, James, Kant and now Sumner, especially after the fact, leads me to seriously question their mental soundness.
    I sincerely mean that, it's sheer madness!

  7. This is turning into quite a dustup. I'm going to get some chips and salsa and sit back and watch a little closer.

  8. I wholeheartedly approve this move.
    Mr. Sumner is a poor excuse of an arbiter of good sense and an unlit beacon of detecting wrongdoing.
    No wonder Mr. Riley seems so pleased with him in the news clip previously posted.
    Inquiring minds would like to know if anyone checked for strings behind Mr. Sumner leading to Mr. Riley's slight of hands.

  9. Now I remember what has been ticking in the back of my mind about Sumner.
    He was the one, along with Riley spokesman Jeff Emerson that saw "no conflict of interest" in Anita Archie sitting on the Environmental Management Commission while she lobbied for the same industries that ADEM (oversee by the EMC) permits!
    Sumner said Wednesday that he was unaware of the specific conflict of interest prohibitions in federal and state law until he learned of them from the Press-Register, and could not judge whether Archie is in compliance with the law.
    That was a bonafide burner of a story and she was fairly well run out of office by some , newspaper editorials about an obvious conflict of interest.
    Of course she claimed that her role as chief lobbyist for the BCA had nothing to do with her resignation.
    Sumner is a dunderhead and not qualified to head the Ethics Commission. But he's there to make sure that the staus quo remains, despite the supposed new laws.
    Like any good Jasper, Alabama devil would do.

  10. CREST--

    Mighty fine catch! Thanks for reminding us of that.


  11. On fine, the Press-Register had to "learn him" about ethics,law and conflicts of interest. Sounds like a Pittman excuse to me. He was in that position for about ten years when that issue with Archie came up wasn't he? So, what the hell was he doing for all that time if he knew so little?
    I'm with you CW, the politicians are dancing about these new ethics laws because they know Sumner will kill most of the complaints anyway.
    Is this the part where we say I SEE YOU....


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