Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Whistling Past the Graveyard of Democracy in Alabama

Who's filling the graveyard of Alabama's citizen's rights? The people or the politicians? Both it seems are content to whistle past the graveyard of a people powered democracy.

The recent issue of recall in Vincent, Alabama should be a lesson to all citizens of this state--if you do not breathe life into your issues and demand a more citizen-based democracy, then you can expect more of your rights to cease to exist. If you don't care, they (the legislators) won't care, and they'll be only too accommodating to allow good citizen-based legislation to suffer their demise of choice 'death in committee.'

Such was the end to a *2009 bill submitted by Representative Treadaway-R, 51st district Jefferson County, HB393 that would have proposed an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama for "all elected state, county and municipal officials to be subject to recall." Numerous editorials and press articles publicized Representative Treadaway's intentions and urged the citizens to contact their legislator's in support of the effort.
*(note that some sponsors of HB393 are still in office and should be challenged to resubmit the bill)  

Each and every one of these members who were on the committee at the time should explain why they would not allow Treadaway's bill to progress to a vote:

2009 Constitution and Election Committee
Chair: James Martin--R  (out of office)
Vice Chair: Tommy Sherer --R  (out of office)
Ranking Minority Member: Jay Love--R
George Bandy--D
Greg Canfield--R
Randy Davis--R (on present committee)
Chad Fincher--R
James Gordon  (out of office)
Ken Guin  (out of office)
Mickey Hammon--R
Barry Mask--R
Joseph Mitchell--D
Mary Moore--D
John Page--D
Patricia Todd--D

Polls taken by some news outlets showed that Alabamians were well into the 90th percentile in favor of having the right to recall elected officials that they view as derelict in their duties, and/or not representative of the needs of the community as a whole. As it stands, citizens have to grin and bear it until the next election cycle, which allows corrupt officials to do a lot of damage by remaining in office for the next four to six years. Alabama history is replete with numerous examples of this, the lawmakers know it, but they continue with the pat answer of "well, just vote them out."

That's a non-answer and a non-starter in fixing the problem.  A better answer and a real solution is to put the recall referendum back up, let it come out of committee and into the land of the living known as a statewide vote.

The politicians know that it will pass overwhelmingly and they have a vested interest in not allowing a vote by the people. The recently elected politicians are making a lot of noise about the importance of state's rights, are citizen's rights less important? 

They must be made to understand that a vote for them was not a mandate to legislate at will unchecked, and labor under the delusion that a yes vote meant 'I agree with everything you think, so forget what I think when you do something I'm against.' That's got a name too, a dictatorship. That's what Vincent has turned into and that's why recall is on the table.

The overwhelming majority of the citizens do not want a rock quarry, City Hall knows it, and that's why they would not allow a vote by the community on the project. If they could afford $2,500+ for a historical marker and $1,800 for Christmas Tree lights, they could afford a vote. Plus, a business stepped forward and offered to pay for the vote.

Vincent's dictatorial leaders played the same game the Alabama legislature does when it sidesteps recall referendums--avoid accountability at all costs.

Elected officials will promise citizens anything to get elected, no secret there, but they must be held accountable when they go back on those deceptive vote-for-me-I'm-for-you promises.

The "sword of recall" hanging over their heads will help ensure responsible government and accountability. 

Initiative and referendum goes hand in hand with a recall provision, but it can be a complicated concept for most voters to grasp. What's important to know about it is two things:
1. It allows a more "direct democracy" rather than one dictated by special interests.
2. The state of Alabama gets a big fat F in citizen based democracy.

We propose that the "new day in Alabama" be the heralding of a willingness to allow this state to be a people are the source of power state, which by the way, is a section of our constitution. But, you have to demand it Alabama.

One other point we made in our last article on this is the conflicting sections of the law of where recall applies (as written) and who it applies to. There is a glaring inequity of the code because it gives one city and one group of people, Dothan, more rights than the thousands of other cities and millions of additional citizens that reside in the state of Alabama.

In our opinion, you cannot discriminate against the majority of cities and municipalities by only giving one a right you don't give to all of the others. That seems to be not only a very poorly written law, but one that could be easily challenged as unconstitutional and wholly discriminatory. 

Laws must be fair when they're enacted to acknowledge and empower citizen's rights, and the one cited as a basis to dismiss the Vincent recall, is not by any stretch of the imagination a fair law. It's arbitrary and capricious at best and a horribly written law at worst. And one of many, that make up the second longest constitution in the world, that's become a sloth-like behemoth of centralized government void of citizen government.

Every year they are in session on Goat Hill they deliver more slashes to the carcass of citizen-based government because they can. Because the citizens of Alabama let them by not mobilizing themselves and demanding better. Those goats on the hill are not going to do anything unless you, the people, demand that they do it in force and with conviction.

They are in session right now so the time is right now.

So, when you get up tomorrow morning, pour yourself a bowl of yellow jackets and get on the phone and get going! Demand that HB393 be re-introduced and let all of Alabama have the right to hold their elected officials accountable to serve their interests, not simply govern in a serve you up manner.

Because if you don't, as the old saying goes, 'it's your funeral.'

Alabama House of Representatives: (334) 242-7600
Alabama State Senate: (334) 242-7800
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  1. You're spot on today, as usual.
    I don't know why we have grown so complacent and weak willed to challenge our state government.
    I propose the bowl of yellow jackets be dumped into a few pants myself. Anybody willing to start a list?
    Let's break down the word "politician"

    Poli (sic) (meaning many)
    tics (sic) (meaning bloodsuckers)

  2. Rep. McClendon was a sponsor on the bill???
    The same Rep that refused to help us in Vincent after stringing us along that he would?
    We worked hard to have over 300 letters signed and all he did was sit on them in his office in Montgomery.
    He's a lying little man in a way too expensive suit who did not care when we asked him for help!
    All we got from him was excuses!!!!

  3. Bowl of yellow jackets...makes me want to run just thinkin' about it.

  4. We are not going away and will not be denied our right to have a representative government in Vincent!
    This is not done just because the league wants to say it's done. The law is unfair I agree and there are two different interpretations.
    Recall is not a "mistake" or "failed" thanks so much for jumping right on the band wagon Fox 6 & ABC 33/40 Emily Luxen.

  5. Thank you for listing the committee members that deserve tar and feathers. My guess is that the three at the top had the most to do with discouraging the bill. Thank goodness Martin is gone! He's another one that ignored Vincent's calls for help.
    I second the determination stand..we are NOT GIVING UP!!! GET THEM OUT!!!!

  6. Annette in AlabamaMarch 3, 2011 at 3:06 PM


    I just got off the phone calling ALL of these people - and I urge all of the people who follow this blog to do the same and urge your friends and family to do the same. It only takes a few moments to pick up the phone and call your representatives.

    Perhaps if we get active or more active and stay in touch with these legislators and make them aware we are out here, watching and waiting for them to do the right things, perhaps we will have improvements in Montgomery.

    It would be wonderful to refer to our state capital as Montgomery rather than Monkey Town. It would be nice to be proud of the state we all love and live in. It would be so wonderful for our elected representatives to do great work on behalf of all of the people.

    Thank you Max Shelby for caring so much and getting this bill the attention it so deserves.

    Hugs and kisses to you.

  7. Some hard truths that some people won't want to hear, but they need to hear...it's literally up to us to better organize without egos and work together to make our government better.
    Many things we do in ordinary daily routines aren't as important as having good government. Think about it folks, it really is up to you to put the pressure on the elected officials.
    If you leave it up to them to do the right thing, they won't, that's a fact.


    Good for you! You get it!

    Section II
    1901 Alabama Constitution
    People source of power

    That all political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit; and that, therefore, they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to change their form of government in such manner as they may deem expedient

    Hopefully others will follow by the example you set.


  9. One issue at a time does not seem unattainable, in my opinion. And if enough people got involved it is possible.

    I have often heard it does not take all of the people to make changes or to get things done. It just takes a few who care enough to make it happen.

    This recall bill could solve a multitude of problems in this state. Just think about it. How many of the elected would do the kinds of things they do if they feared being found out and afterwards having to face a recall?

    This is a great idea. If the representatives in Montgomery are not interested and they turn their backs on this one bill, we will have their names and hold them accountable throughout the remainder of whatever is left of their political careers.

  10. Jimmy Martin was the chair of the committee? That explains a lot. He owes his defeat to the good ol' boy politics and smarmy old same same stuff he and many others are so fond of. Sames goes for Guin and Sherer.
    Jay Love is a Rileyite--total lack of ethics.
    Not hard to see why the bill went nowhere and they can't blame it on the democrats can they?
    You're right that part of the blame is on the people. When you're in battle and they're coming at you with guns blazing, you don't stop, lay down your arms and join hands in a prayer... YOU FIGHT BACK AND FIGHT BACK HARDER THAN THE OTHER SIDE!

  11. good article with a lot of food for thought.

  12. Can you imagine how many millions of dollars would have been saved if Jefferson County Commissioners had faced the threat of recall in the sewer debacle? That was one of the reasons that recall was back in play for chrissakes!

  13. Yes! Jefferson County Commission was and maybe still might be again a poster child for recall legislation!

  14. Great points and a compelling read. Will visit again.


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