POLITICAL CORRUPTION IS A NATIONWIDE ISSUE AFFECTING ALL OF US. ALABAMA RANKS #5 AS THE MOST CORRUPT STATE. *DOJ 2007 stats
Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton
PERTINENT ENVIRONMENTAL AND CORRUPTION ISSUES IN OTHER STATES ARE ALSO DISCUSSED
NO OTHER COMMUNITY, RICH OR POOR, URBAN OR SUBURBAN,BLACK, BROWN,RED, YELLOW OR WHITE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO BECOME AN "ENVIRONMENTAL SACRIFICE ZONE."
Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
At an upcoming event scheduled for July 27 through July 31st, legislators from fifteen southern states will be meeting in Mobile, Alabama behind closed doors. Many who are attending this exclusive event have the option of doing so on the taxpayer's dime.
"While the conference is closed to the general public, it is open to the media and usually attended by lobbyists," according to Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris, of Collierville Tennessee.
*Last year's SLC annual conference, in Memphis, enjoyed accolades as a "$3 million dollar financial boost" for the city. Considering that this "boost" entails placing state politician's registration fees on the public dole - in addition to a generous daily per diem and mileage credits for the drive to Mobile - we can't help suspecting that someone is working hard from a new definition of "economic boom." Taxpayer dollars function as true economic engines when they're spent on roads and bridges and job creation, but not when they're tossed to a gaggle of legislators so that these elected officials can cozy up to lobbyists at ritzy hotels.
(The registration fees range from $300-$350.00 per legislator. Up from $200.00 in 2012)
One lobbying group who's hawking this Mobile soiree is Stateside Associates. Founded by a former Executive Director for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Constance Campanella, the Stateside Associates firm functions as a "stealth lobbyists" organization:
"Taxpayer subsidized stealth lobbyists: Lobbyists who circumvent normal lobbying regulations and procedures to advance the corporate agenda in statehouses nationwide on the taxpayer dime."
"A lobbying behemoth - the self-proclaimed largest firm of its kind - Stateside has enough tricks up its sleeve to tackle even the most difficult, and often delicate, lobbying cases."
In the context of who else potentially funds this event, only one Alabama media outlet noticed any red flags. The Birmingham News' Charles Dean penned a good article on March 17th, questioning the hypocrisy of Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, who, like Alabama AG Luther Strange, takes a strictly public stance against gambling. Dean chose not to link to the quid pro quo letter addressed to the Treasurer for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PBCI) that we posted exclusively to Scribd; instead he chose pertinent passages to construct his story with no credit to the original source of the letter entered into the public domain.
Along with not linking to the letter, Dean did not examine more closely those behind-the-scenes forces attending the SLC, nor did he include other facts that the taxpayers of Alabama, and the fourteen other states, have a right to know.
Charles Dean is a seasoned journalist from whom we expected better. In Alabama, however, with most of the media asleep, overworked, still shell-shocked from the Newhouse/Advance Publications evisceration of Al.com, and/or cowering to forces in the Speaker's offices, something is better than nothing at all.
But it isn't nearly enough.
Gambling is almost as bad of a curse word in the "Heart of Dixie" as democrat, unless we define gambling as various wagering done under the aegis of the federally protected PBCI. If one Alabama state senator has his way with the PBCI, (a futile endeavor against a federally protected group, but a politically expedient one in pleasing the Alabama tea party base), even the PBCI may face Alabama Attorney General Strange's hell-bent, hardliner stance on Bingo and all things slot machine, i.e. Democrats.
In the political poker games of corporate deal-making, ALEC-style cronyism, and unembarrassed double standards, no one plays a better hand than the Alabama Republican Party does. With a marked deck at their disposal, they've built a house of cards on "transparency and honor in office" since sweeping all three legislative branches of government in 2010.
In what amounts to an autobiography of his awesomeness, Speaker Hubbard detailed that process in Storming the State House. He appears to have used taxpayer funds for that literary endeavor too, in addition to hiring an egotistical, middle-aged fool of a man to write the book.
If Alabama's legislators return from these high-dollar conferences and events with potential legislative templates in hand that all Alabamians have to live under, then can we at least demand that it's not done on any taxpayer's dime? Might we also demand that any "conferencing" is not done behind closed doors?
The people should demand no less from their elected officials. Beyond that members of the state media need to wake up and thoroughly explore and/or expose serious issues like these - not only in the interest of good journalism, but because the public has a right to know.
Doing any less enables the cloak of secrecy for Alabama legislators.
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