Though not nearly as visually entertaining as the fistacuffs on the Alabama Senate floor four years ago between Senator Charles "you SOB" Bishop-R and Senator Lowell Barron-D, this latest political rock 'em sock 'em between the Riley faction of the republican party and Governor Bentley's administration is much more interesting. And devious.
The Montgomery Advertiser reports that Senator Taylor has introduced a bill, conveniently close to the end of the 2011 session, that proposes to permanently move authority of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and DPS from the governor's office to the office of Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange.
It's a thinly-veiled power grab with hidden motives, and a usurpation of a previous Executive Order designating the office of the Governor as the ultimate authority over these agencies.
Governor "you will respect my authority" Bentley is not at all pleased and promptly instructed his legislative team to "kill the legislation." He then sent a reeling blow squarely to to Taylor's arrogant jaw with a sharply penned letter, publicly admonishing him, and refuses to entertain the young upstart on any level:
"In the time of a great Alabama tragedy, I am shocked and disappointed that you chose yesterday to introduce SB468, an ill-advised and misguided bill that could disrupt the chain of command of the Department of Public Safety -- a problem an officer of the Alabama National Guard should understand," Bentley wrote in his letter to Taylor, a major with the Guard who volunteered for duty after the most recent tornadoes.
"Your bill is an unnecessary distraction to the many good people who are busy coordinating the state's response to the greatest natural disaster in our history."
"In the first days following this tragedy and in the last remaining days of the regular session, with critical issues left unfinished, it is hard for me to believe that a bill would be introduced to allow, with a stroke of a pen, state troopers to be pulled away from saving lives and reassigned to other duties -- all without the approval of the governor, the chief magistrate of this state," Bentley continued. "This cannot -- and will not -- stand."Of course the boyish looking, but hardly acting Taylor says he is "baffled" and "stunned" by the old bull's rebuke and ratchets up the warfare by calling Bentley's response an "odd sense of urgency" and claimed he was "taken aback by the tone":
What the hell did you expect as a response senator? Flowers and chocolate? Bentley may not be the sharpest tack in the box, but he knows what's behind the shenanigans of a youthful and useful idiot when he sees it. Particularly when it's painfully obvious where your loyalties lie Senator Taylor--with your old boss."Frankly, I'm baffled by Governor Bentley's opposition to this bill and stunned by the harsh and defensive tone of his letter, not to mention the odd sense of urgency given to a bill that I introduced only yesterday and which hasn't even been scheduled for a committee hearing yet."
Perhaps Taylor has never heard the term "Mess with an old bull and you get the horns son."
The implication that Taylor is making with his carefully chosen adverbs and adjectives is clear--Bentley is old and out of touch with the self-described young guns of the republican party.
He goes on to tout himself as a fine citizen who has been on the ground in the aftermath of the Alabama tornadoes (in one passage before Bentley showed up), fundraising with his wife and worshiping with victims of the storms. He's carefully covering all the bases and painting a self-righteous picture of what might appeal to supporters (and sympathizers): military man, family man, man of God and Superman.
Me, me, me and how great I art. Not a word about any other volunteer or do-gooder to distract from the I'm Senator Taylor and never fear because now I am here! He's as transparent as glass and with an equally fragile ego.
Senator Taylor admits "this is a bill that has been on my mind for a while," but when he met with Bentley's chief of staff Judge Chuck Malone a while back, (during session) he didn't bother to discuss the matter. Instead he chose to delve into the now tired as heck issue of gambling, a perennial Riley favorite topic.
The now 'wounded' boy wonder claims he had tried to meet with Bentley's legal adviser Cooper Shattuck to discuss this bill "but both times Cooper was unable to meet with me."
Okay, let's cut through the nonsense here-- you had a captive audience Senator Taylor when you met with Malone, for this bill that has 'been on your mind' and you chose to not discuss it. And now you offer up a defense of no one was able to drop what they were doing that may have been important to meet with the ever important you?
So, your next course of action is to exercise an "odd sense of urgency" and propose this bill so close to the end of session, because you just had to do something (to protect 'someone') with or without discussion with the sitting governor's office?
That's utter nonsense Senator Taylor and as devoid of logic as this bill you are proposing, in addition to being very disrespectful of the governor's office and authority. He's not our favorite person, granted, but he's right to give you a jumbo-sized slap down on your protect my buddy Riley antics.
It doesn't take long to review what the duties of the ABI and DPS are to see what you claim will happen more efficiently, all because of your legislation Senator Taylor, is already in place. The AG's office can make a quick request of the governor's office and have all the resources and manpower available to a valid investigation or purpose with the time it takes to make a phone call.
This is no action legislation according to the language in the bill, but it clearly serves another more devious purpose.
What Taylor is up to smacks of a Nixonian maneuver designed to quash investigations into the former Riley administration and certain republican power players who have more than a little dirt on their hands. There is a lot to lose, such as freedom and face, if certain proverbial stones are overturned resulting in indictments, and well-informed sources tell us that there are active inquiries into more than just a few past transgressions during Riley's reign of corruption.
Doubters might ask themselves why the I-never-met-a-camera-and-microphone-I-won't-hog Bob Riley has been so quiet since leaving office, because let's face it, the man did, perpetually and longingly, thrill to the sound of his own voice and image ad nausea and polecats aren't known for changing their spots.
But we would sure enjoy seeing how one well deserving ol' polecat would look in stripes.
*Photo credit before modification Bruce Turner
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