Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hard Lessons for Alabamians

Photo credit: A Photg Blog And More..
A citizenry without the power to recall is a citizenry without power.

We elect our leaders to office in the hopes that they will be responsive to our community voice and they will faithfully represent the hopes and wishes of their constituents above all else, despite outside influences, and their usually deeper than ours, money pockets. We want our leaders to resist the temptation to forget our voices once they get the brass ring of elected office.

When politicians become unresponsive to our voices, in Alabama, with the exception of one city, we have no remedy to remove our politicians from office. Our only recourse is to wait four to six years and elect better leaders. It does not serve any of us to have to wait until a term expires and allow a corrupted, tin ear politician to remain in office and wreak unchecked havoc on our communities.

But for now, that's all we have. That's what we have settled for--nothing.

We could have better and we should, but the citizens of this state are unable, for whatever myriad of reasons, to organize a strong movement for a recall provision to be added to our state constitution. Several attempts have been made over the years. The last one was by Senator Treadaway in 2009.

It died in committee along with our chance to join eighteen other states who realize the great value of having accountable government made possible by the power of recall.

Having a recall provision allows citizens to maintain control over their elected representatives in the instances of malfeasance, dereliction of duty, and sometimes criminal conduct while in office.

Some communities even have provisions that allow for a full vote by the people before any zoning ordinances or changes to existing ordinances can become law. Can you imagine how different some of our communities would be with this kind of citizen based power?

There are three communities in Alabama that would be in much better condition today, monetarily and in livability, if they had recall power:
  • Birmingham, Alabama--Millions would have been saved in the sewer debacle.
  • Cordova, Alabama--Though their Comprehensive Planning, a new Cordova could become a reality, and years of decline would give way to hope and opportunity for a better future. (And they would have FEMA trailers!)
  • Vincent, Alabama--Instead of facing certain industrialization and destruction from a 1000 acre quarry, the original Comprehensive Plan "A Path to the Future" could actually bring Vincent into the future, and keep it from becoming a statistic.
All three of these communities are in turmoil for one main reason--their elected officials are completely and utterly unresponsive to the voices of their constituents. They stepped into their offices, locked the doors of accountability behind them, and turned their backs on the voters.

We as citizens have been unresponsive ourselves. We have failed to strongly organize into one mighty wave of 'we demand change!' Whether it is a lack of interest, political differences or an inability to put egos aside and work as one, we have not done ourselves any favors by remaining so complacent and unwilling to set our minds to a common goal with the potential for such great rewards.

Another session in the legislature is now drawing to a close, and for the second year in a row no recall bill came up. You can't put all the blame on the legislators because of course they aren't going to volunteer to give up any of their power. We, as a people, have to demand it, with persistence and conviction, or we'll never have any power of our own. It's just that simple, but it won't be that easy to make it a reality--It will take very hard work.

It's been said that "the best lessons are the ones that are the hardest ones learned."

Have we got it yet Alabama?

If not now, when?

So Say We The Opinion Board Of The Vincent Alabama Confidential
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  1. Why hasn't Senator Treadaway brought up this bill again? He's still in office. If it was a good idea before, is it not now?

  2. Tea Party in Bama would not touch this.
    I tried three different groups before session started and got no bites. What I did get was a bunch of yaya about "we have so many issues going on and we can only do so much, none of our groups are really connected etc. etc."
    Colossal waste of time.
    So much for power to the people. Seems to me it is more about power of some people with these cats. Real disappointing.

  3. Sad state of affairs when we care more about Tigers and Tides than we do our rights to good government.

  4. Man alive do we ever need to be able to recall more than a few of these politicians in crooks clothing! But we aren't ever going to be able to if we don't start organizing the effort. I'm ready!
    How about even just one hundred people in each district lean on their reps once a week until they get the message?
    That's shouldn't be hard to do.

  5. Max, look at the amount of comments to this article in comparison to the one on Jack Scott.
    That says a lot doesn't it?
    I tend to agree with UA. Talk about football and you have everybody's attention. Anything else, not so much.

  6. The more these stories of local government running roughshod over the people come out, the madder all people should get.
    But they don't and I don't get it.
    We have to fight for a recall bill!

  7. Even the threat of recall tends to have a good effect and sends a signal to politicians that they better behave themselves or else!

  8. People don't care enough to root out the decades old generational corruption that exists particularly is smaller towns. When an issue arises that affects them personally, then it becomes important, but it's momentary. We have selectively short memories and forget that good government is important 365 days of the year, not just when it touches us personally.
    Apathy is the antithesis of change.
    Just as an alcoholic or addict has to reach a rock bottom to seek help, so too do the voters of Alabama.

  9. Governor Bentley doesn't want to get involved in city business.
    Gee Guv, that didn't stop you from getting involved in the federal gov'ts business with that nonsense of insensitive FEMA letters did it?
    You don't think a mayor who refuses his people shelter on their own land is insensitive?
    Must not be enough political points from getting involved in small town Cordova y' think?

  10. Hate to say it but a lot of the rowdy type country folk won't get it. It's more fun for them to fight and stir it up than think ahead and get ready to do something about it.
    We have those types in the north too.
    Just my two cents.

  11. I could have been offended by that if you weren't close enough to being right about it NY.
    Politics and religion is the other part of it. All any politician has to do to get elected in Alabama is carry a flag over one shoulder and a bible in the other hand.


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