You can’t f@#k with the Machine.

marxbrotherskids

The smirk on School Board member Cason Kirby’s face said it all.

The latest development in the Kelly Horowitz challenge to the 2013 Tuscaloosa school board election has been that Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court Judge Jim Roberts has dismissed the case. Horowitz failed in an  attempt to prove that students voted fraudulently.

Tuscaloosa News reporter Stephanie Taylor has done an outstanding job in covering the case. Her latest article Judge dismisses contest of school board election is no exception:

Former Tuscaloosa City Board of Education member Kelly Horwitz has lost her court battle contesting the 2013 election results.

Horwitz claimed that opponent Cason Kirby was unfairly elected by members of the University of Alabama’s Greek organizations that practice bloc voting in campus and local elections.

Kirby won the election 416-329. The Alabama Supreme Court ruled that 159 of the 745 total votes were illegally cast by people who didn’t meet the city’s residency requirements to vote in District 4.

Taylor wrote:

Some of the people who cast illegal votes and didn’t testify could face felony charges, he said. Of the dozens of people that her legal team subpoenaed to appear in court Tuesday, 41 showed up to testify. Twenty-two testified that they voted for Kirby and six testified that they probably did, saying that they were “85 or 90 percent sure.” A few said they didn’t remember at all, and some invoked their Fifth Amendment right to not provide incriminating testimony.

The judge did allow Horwitz to offer sworn depositions from eight voters who said they voted for Kirby, and subtracted those votes from his total. However, he wouldn’t allow her attorney to offer affidavits into evidence submitted by students in 2013 who voluntarily said they voted for Kirby.

Taylor quoted attorney Joel Sogol who represented Horowitz:

“It’s the principled thing. Here you have The Machine (a secretive confederation of some white fraternities and sororities) on the University of Alabama campus getting involved in a municipal election, and based on all the material I’ve seen, offering all kinds of rewards like drinks and concert tickets to vote. None of them, at least 159, could not vote here, but they came and they registered anyway. I think if there’s not some consequence to that, then it happens again and again.

“I think the judge is wrong. I think those affidavits are admissible, but he thought differently. It will be up to Kelly if she wants to appeal.”

In another Tuscaloosa News article Kelly Horwitz says legal fight targeted secretive group, Taylor reported on a statement made by Horowitz:

“We often mouth the platitude that the younger generation is our future,” Horwitz said in a statement issued Wednesday. “It is time for us to decide which of these competing versions of the future we are we going to nurture: the one that operates in secret through coercion to win at any cost, or the one that operates in the light to encourage free debate and the competition of ideas.”

“People who live in Tuscaloosa have not forgotten the scene and emotions of election day in August 2013,” Horwitz said in the statement. “They won’t forget the scene of stretch limousines bringing students two or three blocks from their residences to vote, like people attending a fancy-dress party. Poll watchers recall students panicking as they filled out their forms, because they knew their real address was in some other district, or city, or state.

“On that day voters — some total strangers — approached me in anger or nearly in tears. They weren’t upset that I might lose; that’s how elections go. They were upset because they felt their own fate as parents of local schoolchildren, and their sense of belonging and ownership in their own district, had been stripped from them.

“For too long, the adults in our community have been willing to turn a blind eye to The Machine, treating it as child’s play,” Horwitz said. “They dismiss it as an entity that plays games with student elections and homecoming queen. But it is past time to acknowledge that this secret organization is a training ground for behavior that brings disrepute to the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa and our state.”

In the Pre-Council meeting that took place before the 2013 election Tuscaloosa City Council member Lee Garrison, who was running for the Chair of the Tuscaloosa City School Board, arrived fifteen minutes late. The first thing he did was to ask the City Clerk if she could take extraordinary measures to insure that students who were voting at the wrong place could be directed to the proper polling place. Garrison pioneered the use of students who were told by the Machine who to vote for in municipal elections.

A December 28, 1997 Tuscaloosa News article “Election Contested” described an earlier election challenge that also failed:

What is a resident? That has become the central issue that could decide whether Councilman Lee Garrison retains the Tuscaloosa City Council District 4 seat he won by 84 votes in the August election. Opponent Don Brown contested the election claiming Garrison benefited from the illegal votes, largely cast by students who don’t need residency requirements.

A University of Alabama senior and former Inter-fraternity Council President, Garrison and his forces registered hundreds of college students to vote. One of the issues became whether students or permanent residents could control the district election. 

While Brown’s forces did not challenge enough votes to make up the difference in Garrison’s margin of victory, his attorneys have been successful in putting voters, mostly students, on the witness stand. They were questioned about where they consider their primary residence and some were required to reveal who they voted for.  

Virtually nonexistent residency requirements leave the outcome completely in doubt. Should circuit Judge Bernard Harwood overturn Garrisons victory, a lengthy appeal is expected.

Garrison won the School Board race in 2013, along with Cason Kirby. Both depended on the votes of University students to win.

 

Voters who have no children in school have a right to vote in school board elections. If they are permanent residents of the community the quality of its schools should be a legitimate concern. Whether students, who are only in town for a few years and whose motive for voting is to elect one of their own, should vote in a local school board election  is another matter. Yes. They have a right to vote. But as Kelly Horowitz said:

It is time for us to decide which of these competing versions of the future we are we going to nurture: the one that operates in secret through coercion to win at any cost, or the one that operates in the light to encourage free debate and the competition of ideas.”

 

 

Standard

Too Much Monkey Business?

No Evil

Did three Council Members  decide on their own that Northport, Alabama, would be better off without its City Administrator? Does it matter that the former City Administrator Scott Collins rode off into the sunset to work as a City Manager in a small Tennessee town in his new Audi? After all, four of Northport’s Council Members voted to award  him with a generous severance package and health insurance.

Council Member Judy Hayes, who was the lone voice of dissent in approving the severance package,  ran a campaign ad in the Northport Gazette saying:

See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil. There’s been too much “monkey business” going on in Northport! Northport should show that it’s ready for business. Perhaps the best way that it can do that is to run a business-like city government.

There has been too much controversy in Northport. Overcoming this bad image will require leadership. Unfortunately too much of what has gone on in the past involved special interests.

The abrupt resignation of our City Administrator, the firing of our new Finance Director, the sewage spill, the arrest of a citizen for going to a Council meeting and other such controversial things have painted an unflattering picture of Northport. How can Northport be attractive to new business with this cloud of controversy hanging over it? Steps must be taken to change the way things are being run.

Angel Coker reported  in an article that appeared on the front page of the April 16th, 2016, edition of the Tuscaloosa News, in the aftermath of Collins resignation, that it was all a “backroom”deal.

Mayor Bobby Herndon said that the City Council will propose that state Rep. Alan Harper, R-Northport, fill the city administrator position temporarily.

“I was not involved in any of the discussions. It was all done backroom,” Herndon said Friday.

Alan Harper is the brother of Northport City Councilman Bart Harper.

Bill Britt’s “Representative Harper in the Midst of City Controversy” in the Alabama Political Reporter maintained that the purpose of Collins’ resignation was “to create a job opening for Representative Alan Harper.”

Mayor Bobby Herndon told the Alabama Political Reporter that council members Jay Logan, Bart Harper and Rodney Sullivan met privately outside of the presence of the Council, where they decided to eliminate City Administrator, Scott Collins, and give the job to Rep. Alan Harper (R-Northport). Bart Harper is Alan Harper’s brother.

Collins confirmed to APR that the three councilmen approached him and eventually agreed to pay him a years salary plus benefits if he would resign immediately, without the advice or consent of the Mayor or other council members.

An email from Northport City Attorney, Ronald L. Davis, dated April 15, 2016, to the City’s Benefits Administrator, Carrie Cameron, deals with the payments to be made to Collins, and who gave the orders to write the checks. The email reads, “Per my instructions by three City Council members, please cut the three checks to Scott Collins we discussed this morning… For his salary for one year, April 15, 2016 to April 15, 2017, to be paid in one lump sum today.” On that same day, Cameron produced three checks totaling $131,241 to Collins signed by Council President Logan and Collins.

Alan Harper’s brother read a statement at the April 18th Council Meeting that challenged the APR account. It was reported by Stephen Dethrage in a July 19th Tuscaloosa News article “Bart Harper defends Northport City Council’s action”:

“I’m tired of reading and hearing lies about myself, my brother and other council members,” Harper said.

In response to the article, Harper read aloud his timeline of the week surrounding Collins’ April 15 resignation. He said he called Herndon on April 11, met with him on the 12th and called him on the 16th trying to explain why he and other council members believed Collins’ resignation was necessary.

Each time, Harper said, Herndon declined to discuss the matter, ultimately sending a text message that read “Bart, I see you have tried to call me. It would be better if we didn’t talk.”

“There’s three times I reached out to try to get everybody on the same page,” Harper said. “Bobby didn’t want to be involved, but this was a council decision, not a backroom deal.”

In a followup story in APR “Harper Brother’s Controversy Continues to Grow” Bill Britt published a letter signed by Interim City Administrator Charles Swann and Alan Harper.

The letter, signed by interim City Administrator, Charles Swann, states that Harper is an unpaid volunteer. But, insiders at City Hall say this is a fallback position, after a failed attempt by three council members to install Harper as City Administrator, without the full council’s consent.

Britt also wrote:

At the City Council meeting following this publication’s report, Bart Harper gave a 26-minute diatribe in which he claimed the Mayor was lying, and all the council members were aware of the decision to negotiate Collin’s departure. “The Mayor and all Council members were aware and involved in the entire process,” said Harper. Further stating, “I called Council members Logan, Simms, and Rodney Sullivan during this process. President Logan called Judy Hayes.” Harper said he couldn’t remember why he didn’t call Councilwoman Hayes.

Hayes told the Alabama Political Reporter in July that she was unaware of the move to replace Collins and that she believed actions taken by the trio Logan, Harper and Sullivan, violated the open meetings act. Mayor Herndon also denied prior knowledge of plans to remove Collins and replace him with Harper.

Harper, near the end of his rant said, “Do you think I wanted all of this? Wanted to stir up all this mess and get the Harpers in charge of the city of Northport? I’m going off the Council and as soon as I get off, I don’t want to have anything to do with politics anymore.”

Representative Alan Harper has claimed that he “told everyone at city hall some time ago that I have no interest in the CA job. Would not do it for anything. I retired from Northport and plan to keep it that way!”

The full truth about the resignation of Collins may never be known. Many people in Northport just wanted Collins out of the way. They didn’t care how it happened and just wanted to avoid any more bad publicity. In one sense they didn’t want to hear, see or speak any more evil.

A Tuscaloosa News editor once, when information on unaccounted for taxpayer money in Northport was given to him, said that he was very familiar with politics in Alabama. Claims about corruption weren’t anything new. They were rampant in small towns all across Alabama. Northport wasn’t all that exceptional.

The August 23rd Municipal Elections in Northport may be a water shed moment for truth. Many candidates for Mayor and the Council are calling for the forensic audit that Council Member Judy Hayes has repeatedly unsuccessfully called for at Council meetings.

Current Mayor Bobby Herndon has always said that Northport is the envy of other cities in Alabama because of its financial condition. In June 2013, Lydia Seabol-Avant reported in the Tuscaloosa News that “Northport’s bond rating has been increased from ‘A+’ to ‘AA-‘ with a financial outlook that has changed from ‘stable’ to ‘positive.'” At the time refinancing the city’s bond debt was discussed, but it was not until this year that the improved rating was used to justify doing so.

In 2015 Seabol Avant reported a vote on Northport’s budget had a lone dissenting voice.

The budget had majority support during Northport’s council meeting Monday with a vote of 4-1. The sole desenting vote was Councilwoman Judy Hayes, who said she could not approve a budget that the public had very little input or insight on. Unlike previous budgets, which usually are not voted on until December, the 2016 budget was discussed briefly during a work session after District 4 council candidate interviews on Sept. 10, with no other budget work session to discuss proposed expenditures.

“This (budget) process should have happened over several months,” Hayes said. “I cannot in good conscience vote on the budget tonight.”

It is widely known that Northport met its last payroll by drawing money from the Water and Sewer Fund. It might be thought that, if good budgeting practices were followed, the payroll would paid from the General Fund.

The recent refinancing of its bond debt was predicated on its Standard and Poors AA- rating. Why a city that has to resort to meeting its payroll by using Water and Sewer funds would be so highly rated could be questioned by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

One of the Mayoral candidates has said that Northport is $60 million in debt. The exact nature of Northport’s finances may never be ascertained unless the Municipal Election produces enough new blood in Northport’s leadership and a forensic audit is made.

Standard

Cash Cow

Cash Cow

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines “cash cow” as  “a metaphor for a ‘dairy cow’ used on farms to produce milk, offering a steady stream of income with little maintenance.”

Many cities depend on business license and sales tax revenues, among other sources of income. But quite often,  the monthly fees for a municipality’s monthly water and sewer are considered the only constant revenue stream. Such fees are often the easiest for a city to continually increase. A city on its own can raise the fees that it charges on a yearly basis, whereas sales tax revenues remain relatively constant and require other measures.

If a city, for example, met its payroll obligations by resorting to using its water and sewer funds instead of its general fund, its financial health might be questionable. Good budgeting should allow a city to anticipate the general fund’s fluctuations in its yearly revenue stream.

But such things have been known to happen. That’s why it’s nice sometimes to have a “cash cow.”

 

Standard

Reservations About Reserve Funds?

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 8.58.11 AM

The use of reserve funds by the City of Northport to pay general operating expenses is a practice that is not fully understood by many taxpayers in Northport, Alabama.

Mayor Bobby Herndon said that former City Administrator Scott Collins had moved money from a reserve fund and replaced it, an act that should have resulted in only a slap on the wrist by the Civil Service Board. Herndon said that Collins’ resignation is in some way associated with this common practice of shifting funds and accused Council members of “sneaky snake moves.”

The use of reserve funds may have been used to pay bills in the past. But under the leadership of Mayor Bobby Herndon and former City Administrator Collins and with the advice of the LeCroy auditing firm it was thought by some to have become a standard practice.

In 2010 the Northport City Council met with the auditor at a work session as reported in The Tuscaloosa News  by Lydia Seabol-Avant “to review the city’s 2009 financial audit.”

Because the city depleted its reserves in 2009, the city must make drastic cuts or find other sources of revenue, said accountant Richard LeCroy.

“We are bleeding cash down over the last three years and cannot continue without some changes,” LeCroy said. “The city cannot continue at the rate it is going now and have anything left in a couple of years.”

Accountant Courtney LeCroy added, “Cost control is going to be the name of the game, and there is not a lot to play with, as far as revenue.”

The problem is a combination of a poor economy, stagnant revenue and poor financial practices by the city in the past, said City Administrator Scott Collins.

Small utilities increases for city have helped, but not enough.

In 2008, the Northport City Council increased the water and sewer rates for the first time in more than two years.

More rate increases are necessary to keep the system afloat, Richard LeCroy said.

The Mayor of Northport is given the authority of appointing an independent auditor.

  1. Pursuant to §11-43-85, Code of Alabama 1975, “…the mayor, at least once a year, shall appoint an independent public accountant or the department of examiners of public accounts to conduct an examination in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards of all books and accounts of the city or town since the preceding examination and to make a full report thereof in writing, under oath, to be submitted to the council at its first meeting after the completion of such report, and the same shall be spread upon the minutes of the council.* For his services said independent public accountant or the department of examiners of public accounts shall be paid such sum as may be agreed upon.” *The auditor’s report has never been presented at a Council meeting where minutes have been kept.

Under the term of Mayor Bobby Herndon, the “independent auditor” has been Lecroy, Hunter & Co. From the very beginning it might appear that the accounting firm has done more than just prepare an audit. In many cases people might be excused for thinking that the job of a Finance Director was assumed by the independent auditor. Of course that would not be a correct assumption. For long periods of time Northport has actually had no Finance Director. The most recent director Kenneth McKeown was fired after only a few months on the job.

In a 2011 Tuscaloosa News article Adam Jones reported that City Administrator Scott Collins requested that emergency reserve accounts be created

Collins asked the council to consider setting up in city code an emergency reserve account for both the city’s main operations and its water and sewer operations. He suggested the savings account for both be about 10 percent, or about $2 million for the general budget and $1 million for the water and sewer budget.

“There’s just so much more the city can do if we have those reserves,” Collins said.

In August, Collins said he was able to transfer $1 million into a general fund reserve account and $300,000 into a water and sewer fund reserve. It can be used to start the reserve funds and fully fund them by the end of 2012, he said.

In 2014 in a Tuscaloosa News article by Lydia Seabol-Avant it was reported that the city’s Water and Sewer Fund was kept separate from the General Fund.

The city’s water and sewer fund, which is kept separate from the general fund, ended 2013 with $2.5 million in unrestricted cash and a reserve of $1.1 million, according to the audit. Although it performed well financially, the water and sewer fund did bring in less revenue than in 2012, with revenues declining by 7 percent due to heavier rainfall in 2013 than in 2012.

The city’s auditors suggested that Northport have three to six months of operating expenses on reserve. At the end of 2013, the water and sewer fund had two and a half months of operating expenses in reserves, which is close but not ideal, said accountant Courtney LeCroy. Still, with the fund increasing its reserves, the city is on track to hit the three-to-six-month goal, he said.

“We are moving in the right direction,” LeCroy said. “Overall it’s been a positive year.”

In 2015 the Council approved an automatic yearly increase in reserve funds by passing Ordinance 1872 “amending Chapter 34 of the Municipal Code pertaining to Reserve Fund Accounts.” Lydia Seabol-Avant reported that former City Administrator Scott Collins said, “With the increased revenues, we are making increased efforts toward our reserves. What we learned from the tornado is that emergency funds are vital in a disaster. We are trying to ensure there would be no disruption in (city) services.”

Ordinance 1872 pertains to the Budgeting requirements for the City of Northport:

There shall be maintained within the water/sewer enterprise fund of the city a reserve fund account balance. Funds held or maintained in the water/sewer enterprise fund reserve account, regardless of the account balance, shall only be available for obligation and expenditure pursuant to a permanent resolution adopted by the city council with a minimum of four affirmative votes. Said permanent resolution shall include the specific dollar amount of funds to be used, shall include a stated and descriptive declaration that the proposed use of the funds is necessary and required by extraordinary circumstances to preserve and protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of City of Northport, shall include the method of repayment or reimbursement of the funds to the reserve account, shall include the source of reimbursement funds, and shall include the date by which the funds will be reimbursed to the reserve account.

Money from a reserve account can only be spent after a resolution is passed by a vote of four Council members on the specific amount and there must be an extraordinary reason for the expenditure. Would meeting the payroll, for example, meet that criteria?

The taxpayers in Northport deserve an explanation of just how reserve funds are used. Can they used without the consent of the Council each time they are used? If they are used to pay for “emergency” shortfalls in the city’s revenue, then the definition of what constitutes an emergency would be helpful. A natural disaster would be construed as an emergency by most people, but a shortfall in sales tax revenue might not be looked at in the same way.

Standard

The Lawsuit That Time Forgot?

20131123_115318

University of Alabama students voting according the dictates of the Machine made the difference in a Tuscaloosa School Board election in 2013. They elected one of their own. In all probability none had children in the school system. Many may have also been enticed into voting with the offer of free brooze.

If the upcoming court appearance by many of them overturns the election, will the University Administration finally rein in the members of a secretive organization that is based in the Greek culture on campus?

Stephanie Taylor reported in the Tuscaloosa News:

“University of Alabama students who cast illegal votes in the 2013 Tuscaloosa City Board of Education election will be called to testify in court at an election contest trial in September.

“The trial will end a three-year court battle that brought national attention to UA’s Greek system and its organized participation in local elections. A final outcome would be decided just months before the next school board election.

“Former board member Kelly Horwitz contested the 2013 school board election results after losing to Cason Kirby in District 4, with 329 votes to his 416. Horwitz, who was the incumbent, claimed that many of the University of Alabama students who voted in the election didn’t meet residency requirements or voted after being offered inducements such as free drinks and concert tickets.

“The majority of voters who cast illegal votes were University of Alabama students who lived near campus. Many have likely graduated and moved from Tuscaloosa.”

Standard

Three Years In The Making?

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 8.55.14 AM

Lily Belle
Your hair is golden brown
I’ve seen your black man
Coming round ~ Neil Young “Southern Man”

Will minorities be recruited by University of Alabama Greeks now that the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice has stepped in?

Maybe a few token minority faces will appear in the Greek section at Bryant Denny Stadium on weekends now?

Why did the University’s administration have to consult with the U.S. Attorney’s Office before developing a plan?

One thing is clear. On Rush Week the Alabama National Guard will not be “federalized”.

An AL.com article by Ken Faulk reported:

“The University of Alabama announced Friday afternoon that it has developed a plan that provides a model to promote inclusion of minorities in the recruitment process for campus sororities and fraternities.

“The plan, developed with the help of federal civil rights prosecutors, encompasses three years of focused effort, which began in fall 2013 and resulted in increasingly diverse new member sorority classes in 2013, 2014 and 2015, the University announced in a statement.

“UA has about 10,000 students in its 62 Greek organizations, making it one of the largest in the country, according to the statement.

“Since Fall 2012, the percentage of students of color in fraternities and sororities has increased 91.5 percent. Over the same time period, the Greek community has increased 31.1 percent and the overall UA enrollment of undergraduate students of color has increased 20.3 percent, according to the statement.

“UA states that the action plan clarifies expectations for all students and student organizations; establishes a clear and consistent process for reporting, investigating and responding to allegations of discriminatory conduct; implements appropriate training and education for those involved in the selection process; and works to provide a supportive, welcoming campus that is inclusive and free of racial tension.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Birmingham stated Friday that the University, which claims the largest fraternity and sorority membership, consulted with it and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in developing the plan.

“‘Greek life is a vital part of the college experience for many students. With today’s action plan, the University of Alabama makes a commitment that this important component of University life, which plays a significant role in the formation of relationships students will carry forward into their adult lives, is not tarnished by racial barriers,’ U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance stated in a statement also issued Friday afternoon. ‘We look forward to the University’s prompt and full implementation of the action plan. We appreciate the students who came forward with allegations about discrimination in sorority rush and made this action plan possible. We urge the community to contact our office if they have any concerns about discrimination or other civil-rights violations on any campus.’

“In the fall of 2013, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Civil Rights Division had contacted the University to inquire about the allegations of race discrimination in the selection process for new members in the University’s traditionally white sororities, and the University’s response, according a statement from U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance.

“At that time, the University had undertaken a series of efforts to demonstrate the University’s commitment to a discrimination-free campus environment and to increase diversity in the University’s recognized Greek organizations, according to Vance’s statement.”

Standard

Doctor gone wild?

20206951-large

Alabama’s Governor Robert Bentley was a mild-mannered dermatologist in T-Town until he was, to the astonishment of many, elevated to the state’s highest office.

Bentley has received national attention and has been the brunt of jokes for late-night talk show hosts in the last few months because of an alleged relationship that he had with his former advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason and a recording of sexually explicit comments about essentially “squeezing her peaches.”

His wife of over fifty years divorced him. Before the marriage’s end, they were reported to have had a few serious tiffs. On one occasion he left their house in Tuscaloosa in his truck to go to his beach house without his wallet. Not to worry. He sent the state’s helicopter to retrieve it.

There has been a lot of publicity about the use of other types of aircraft as well. Conner Sheets reported:

Gov. Robert Bentley’s prolific use of state planes has been the subject of intense scrutiny in the months since rumors first emerged that he had an affair with Rebekah Caldwell Mason, a former top adviser.

But the murkier topic of how exactly Bentley used private planes has been largely absent from media coverage.

One major reason for the lack of reporting about the governor’s private plane habit is the fact that there are no public records detailing when Bentley hired such aircraft. Unlike with state airplanes and helicopters, there is no legally mandated public paper trail for the private flights Bentley took.

Controversy over Bentley’s frequent use of state planes has played a role in the fallout of the allegations that the governor had an affair with Mason. A key potential question for investigators is whether Bentley used taxpayer-funded state aircraft for personal use – perhaps to keep his wife and alleged mistress apart, as some have alleged.

An article by Lucy Berry “Alabama brewery to debut Unimpeachable Pale Ale mocking Bentley scandal” describes a new offering by Salty Nut Brewery:

An Alabama craft brewery will observe the state’s new growler law by debuting a limited-release peach beer inspired by the ongoing Gov. Robert Bentley scandal.

The promotional artwork references a leaked recording, part of which includes Bentley describing how he liked to stand behind Mason and touch her breasts. Both Bentley and Mason have denied there was a physical relationship between them.

“When naming and branding a beer, we try to come up with names and imagery that are memorable and descriptive of the beer, and feel that Unimpeachable Pale Ale is both,” said Salty Nut co-owner Jay Kissell in an interview with AL.com.

Unimpeachable Pale Ale, made with fresh peaches and Idaho 7 hops…

Several state lawmakers have called for impeachment of Bentley “for willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency and offenses of moral turpitude.”

Some of Bentley’s ideas may have actually been a tad too progressive for Alabama lawmakers. He was starting to backtrack on Medicaid expansion and said, “I am concerned about the plight of the working poor … If doctors are not paid for seeing those patients, doctors will not go to rural Alabama because you can’t expect a doctor to go to rural Alabama and lose money.”

Then, there was the subject of taxes.

As Amber Phillips wrote in the Washington Post article “Rebekah Caldwell Mason, and how Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley ‘lost his mind’”:

After his successful reelection bid in 2014, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley did something that shocked many of his fellow Republicans: He called for raising taxes to shore up the state’s budget — $500 million in new taxes, in fact.

The moment was particularly head-scratching for anyone who had been following his career. It came mere months after Bentley had successfully campaigned on his record of not raising taxes in his first term.

“He frankly lost his mind,” AL.com reporter Leada Gore told The Fix on Thursday. “He starts throwing out tax increases — it’s almost as if somebody flipped a switch and we got a different governor.”

That flipped switch, many in Alabama now think, had something to do with Rebekah Caldwell Mason, a former TV anchor who attended the same church as Bentley in Tuscaloosa and rose to become his top adviser.

The cries for Bentley’s impeachment may be coming from some people who are less offended by his personal improprieties than by a perceived breath of liberality and compassion for the poor. And there is a high level of sanctimony in the hearts of Alabamians. Casting the first stone is no problem in The Heart of Dixie.

Alabama has had one Governor in its history whose notoriety eclipsed anything done by Bentley.  Alabama’s 42nd Governor “Big Jim Folsom” was pulled from the gutter on many occasions after going on benders that would have killed normal mortals. He was even once sued by an unwed woman who claimed he fathered her son.

A 1996 New York Times article “Sadistic Yellow Vitriol” by Maureen Dowd recounted Folsom’s behavior:

Big Jim Folsom, also known as Kissin’ Jim Folsom, the hard-drinking, bigger-than-life Southern populist who was Governor of Alabama in the 50’s, was in a tough race once when his aides warned him that his opponent had laid a trap. The rival camp was sending out a beautiful woman to try to maneuver Big Jim into a compromising position.

The Governor took the news calmly. ”Boys,” he drawled, ”if they use that bait, they’ll catch ol’ Jim every time.”

Historian Dan T. Carter once wrote that Folsom suffered from too much whiskey, too many women, too few honest friends.”

Governor Robert Bentley, who lives in today’s goldfish bowl media culture, has had everything but the kitchen sink thrown at him. Now his image even graces a bottle of ale.

But, in Alabama, nothing is really a given except winning football. So impeachment and peach favored ale may not go hand in hand.

 

 

Standard