Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Friday, May 20, 2011

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange Indicts the Entire Bullock County Commission on No-Bid Contract Violations

Alabama AG 'Big' Luther and the 'Mighty Whitey' Haley Barbour
Justice is itself the great standing policy of civil society; and any eminent departure from it, under any circumstances, lies under the suspicion of being no policy at all.
Edmund Burke

An press release from the Alabama AG's office announced today that the entire Bullock County Commission was indicted for violating the Alabama no-bid contract law. It resulted in indictments and felony arrests of each and every commission member. The move, by Attorney General Luther Strange, in effect, vacates the entire commission. It was a drastic move that has never, before now, occurred in the state of Alabama:
The matter was referred to the Attorney General's Office by the Alabama Examiners of Public Accounts. An audit covering the time period of October 2008 to September 2009 included a finding by the Examiners that “The Code of Alabama 1975, Section 41-16-50, states that all expenditure of funds of whatever nature for labor, services, work, or for the purchase of materials, equipment, supplies, or other personal property involving $15,000.00 or more should be subject to the Alabama Competitive Bid Law. The Commission paid at least $61,000.00 for supplies and $24,000.00 for food for the Jail without letting bids as required by the Alabama Competitive Bid Law.”
The Examiners had previously issued reports of audits for the years October 2006 to September 2007 and October 2007 to September 2008, the two years prior to the audit under investigation, which also reported that the Commission had paid in excess of $15,000 for food for the jail without letting bids as required by Section 41-16-50.
Bullock County is not the only county in Alabama that's been found to be in violation of Alabama's no-bid contract law, and we have to wonder why they are being held accountable while another "favored' county seemingly escapes the long arm of the law from Luther Strange's office.

A state audit released in October of 2010 revealed that the republican stronghold of Shelby County, Alabama had been found to have an "expired no-bid contract for chemical supplies." Their expenditures dwarfed the amount that got the entire Bullock County Commission arrested and thrown in the clink. An additional alarming finding of employee theft was also revealed in the Shelby County audit:
The State of Alabama Auditor’s Office released the results of the Shelby County audit for 2008/2009 on October 8, 2010. The report reveals theft of county funds by an “unidentified” county employee on 19 separate occasions totaling $15,403.61. Fictitious adjustments to a bank reconciliation were done to help to hide the evidence. A separate finding of the audit  showed that the county jail spent $187,950.00 on “chemical supplies” in a no-bid contact that had expired.
♦ 2009-01 relates to a former employee of the Commission making fictitious adjustments to bank reconciliations and making unauthorized withdrawals from bank accounts.
♦ 2009-02 relates to the Commission’s failure to properly bid purchases in accordance with the Code of Alabama 1975, Section 41-16-50.
The Bullock County story includes this disclaimer of sorts:
"No further information about the investigation or about the defendants' alleged crimes other than that stated in the indictments may be released at this time."
There may be more to the Bullock County action than what we know at this time, but from the basis of the indictments, it certainly appears that selective justice is being applied in a horribly uneven manner in determining when a violation of Alabama's no-bid law becomes actionable and felonious.

Shelby County violated the exact same law that Bullock County is accused of, and in a more egregious manner to boot, and nothing happened to that commission. Not even a whisper of an investigation or impropriety was ever raised.


From where we sit, this abets some serious questions about the ability of the Alabama Attorney General's office to render fair and even applications of Alabama's laws without prejudice. 

A 2010 sample ballot for Bullock County reveals that it is a democratic stronghold that's been on the radar of the AG's office and the Shelby County native Secretary of State Beth Chapman-R before in 2008 for voting irregularities.

It's no secret that the steamroller of conservatism is in full throttle after the recent elections, and we're seeing some serious overreaching and gloating of power by the republicans who appear to be hell-bent on the extinction of all things liberal. We have to wonder what part politics plays in this because in Alabama it's always about politics and power.

Four out of five of the Bullock County Commissioners are black, 75% of the county is black. In Shelby County, all of the commissioners are white, staunchly republican, and the commission head is a cousin of Governor Bentley. Make of that what you will, if anything. We're really hoping the days of Jim Crow are behind us, but not holding our collective breaths that much has changed in the land of chains and cotton.

If what's just happened in Bullock County is based in any part in the frenzied crusade of the right, and they are willing to apply the laws of Alabama selectively and with deliberate unfairness for partisan purposes, then we're all in a hell of a lot more trouble than we can even begin to realize.
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  1. This is going on in more counties than just Bullock and Shelby. Why is Strange singling out Bullock and arresting the entire commission?
    This is craziness.
    You would think there is a bingo parlor involved from his heavy handed swoop down.
    Something is off with this.

  2. This has a smarmy feel to it and doesn't seem appropriate to be handled in this manner. He's trying to make an example of someone and send a message. If he goes after a red county in the same way, say Shelby County maybe, then I'll believe it's about following the law.

  3. Why does this remind me of Riley and his bingo crusade?

  4. It would be refreshing if the thought of race and political expedience wasn't a factor in way too many issues, but Alabama has a reputation that is well documented and not entirely in the annals of history, and therefore always suspicious in most political and legal maneuvers.

  5. Shelby County is just as guilty, so when should we expect that entirely crooked and corrupt commission to be frog-marched Big L?
    Have you gassed up the paddy wagons yet?

  6. Didn't Luther promise to clean up the corruption in Montgomery during his campaign?
    I think he veered off course.
    On SC, they are the untouchables in their minds, but what they did according to the state audit is worse, I agree. I think most would looking at the figures and facts.
    How about it Luther?
    Justice for all, or justice for some?

  7. Funny thing happened on the way to some explanation. The AG's office doesn't have much to say about the uneven hand of Big Luther and why the Shelby Commission was treated differently than the Bullock Commission. Neither does the office of Public Examiners.
    Imagine that.
    Maybe I should take another more direct route...

  8. Our former governor in thief did exactly the same thing to the tune of millions. Shelby County was his little county that could wasn't it? Strange is Riley's puppet boy, so why would he go after Shelby County? He won't do it because it would be even justice now would he? We can't have a thing like being fair complicating political prosecutions now can we?

  9. If thew law has been broken, the law should be upheld and justice must rule, but it has to be fair justice, or the opening quote by Edmond Burke makes it crystal clear what the consequences of selective enforcement lead to.
    At first blush, this does not appear to be an even application of the law, and indeed appears as the law with prejudice. Whatever form of prejudice that may be, it still is prejudice.

  10. i'myourhuckleberryMay 20, 2011 at 6:47 PM

    This is the same Luther Strange that accepted the $7 million dollar gift from former Governor Riley yes? The same Luther who was content to keep the money until Governor Bentley asked him to give it back?
    The same Luther Strange that is only on the Alabama political scene because Alabama Power drafted him as opposition to George Wallace, Jr.?
    The same Luther who calls the rich, Caucasian enclave of Mt. Brook his home?
    The same Luther who is making a mockery of the AG's office, and a fool of himself, by going after a poor black county and letting the rich white county who violated the same law off the hook?
    It should be readily obvious what is going on here, and it stinks to the hilltops of a political red meat move.

  11. Luther your white robes are showing son.

  12. This doesn't pass the smell test from across the room and down the street.

  13. areyoulisteningyetMay 21, 2011 at 12:30 AM

    Is this what most of Luther's supporters wanted when they gave him their vote last November?
    Targeted justice by the powerful for the select few who disagree with them politically? I have to make myself believe they didn't, because if they did, then that makes them all complete idiots.
    If Luther does not exercise the serving of justice fairly with no-bid contract violation laws, and treat the other counties who have violated this law as he did Bullock County, then he has no business in office.
    You cannot have it both ways as a sitting AG.
    It's either justice for none or the same justice for all.

  14. I cannot believe any of the news stories did not pick up on the painfully obvious inequity in enforcing the law.
    Nor do I understand why Bullock County was referred by the state for further investigation and Shelby County is just given a free pass.
    It's sickening!

  15. Does BC know they appear to be singled out for violation? If they don't someone should tell them!


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