I and many others are concerned with what we see in the prospect: the weakening, if not the actual demise, of the two-party Alabama for which we all have fought, literally for decades. Before reading further please click here to get a graphic snapshot of what I mean.
Based on present information, admittedly incomplete, here is what appears to be happening. Paul Hubbert, Czar of the AEA/NEA union, has seen the opportunity afforded by a shortfall in tax revenues and is intent on effecting a major coup. Never mind for the moment how genuine this shortfall is. There is good reason to question its real validity, but the media have succeeded in making it appear as an unquestioned fact, and in the popular mind it is just that, a fact. This has put great pressure on our governor to "do something," and has made him vulnerable to the wiles of the clever and hardened political manipulator Hubbert.
Hubbert, seizing the moment, has declared a "crisis" and proceeded to put together a package of new programs and spending that amount to a stunning $1.2 billion. Although the ostensible sponsor of this proposal is the Governor of Alabama, the evidence points to Hubbert as the Machiavellian who is the actual, or de facto, sponsor.
Consider, for example, the unusual treatment being given to Hubbert's special interest. The package contains 30 or so individual bills, the number varying according to which report you read, and the announced procedure was that the package as a whole would be voted up or down by the legislature, then submitted to the voters in September. But wait-- Hubbert was not happy with this procedure, but insisted that exactly one of the bills, the one that would forbid the laying off of any of his union members, regardless of any considerations of economy or budgets, would be voted into place before he would allow the rest to be considered. "That was a precondition," Hubbert said.
According to Hubbert's edict, a janitor working for the prison department can be laid off if necessary, but a janitor that is a member of Hubbert's union can not be. An engineer or supervisor with the highway department can lose his job, but no teacher or principle can. If you are on Hubbert's rolls and are a bus driver you are secure, but if you drive a dump truck in another department of the state you are vulnerable.
Need I say more? Anyone who can dictate such a manifestly self serving and unfair provision to both the governor and the legislature is clearly the man in control. And if we Republicans support the Hubbert Tax Plan out of the misguided belief that it is a Republican plan, the result will be (1) a strengthening of Hubbert's power amounting to a stranglehold on the whole state, (2) a final confirmation in the popular mind that there is no fundamental difference between us and the Democrats, and (3) a serious demoralizing effect, already being sensed, among loyal members of our Party.
Heaven help us if we should promote this plan! But we cannot even afford to acquiesce in it, a plan in which in other circumstances we would denounce as an outrageous and absurd move by liberal Democrats. By supporting, or seeming to support, the plan we will have virtually pledged our fealty to a joyous Mr. Hubbert.
And if we rally to the Hubbert flag we will have a lot of company. The Democrats will all be there, having been there all along. Then under our mutual leader we can proceed as one host to-- where? Wherever we go and whatever we do, we Republicans won't be doing it as the independent party we traditionally have been, not as the party opposed in principle to the Democrats.
I see no rational choice but to stand foursquare against this outrage. This will be difficult for us because the Hubbert Plan is being falsely sold as a Republican plan, and we reflexively support things Republican. But here we must stop and think, recognize the reality of the present situation, do what is needed to preserve our independence, and thus save the Alabama two-party system.
This is a doleful picture, a scene of potential crisis within our Party. But there is a bright spot that we should not overlook. There is always opportunity in crisis and this is no exception. If we resolutely oppose this, the largest tax increase in the history of Alabama, we will have made ourselves clear and distinct from the tax-and-spend Democrats, those who demand more of citizens' money for questionable government programs. The result will be a stronger Republican Party.
Finally, of course, we must do the really fundamental thing. We must curb the AEA and Mr. Hubbert. And goodness knows we need, right now, to be done with taking his noxious payola.
Don't overlook the letters from correspondents and links from previous e-mails below.
Madison County, Place 1
State Executive Committee
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The fact that Governor Riley has worked hard to build a coalition that includes the AEA should not prohibit Republicans from helping our Governor to see that his legislation is passed in the special session that begins tomorrow.
I believe that Governor Riley and his administration have worked hard over the past few months to create a plan that will raise much needed revenues for the state while (and this is every bit as important) creating strong measures of accountability for those revenues.
I don't like taxes any more than you do. But Governor Riley has reduced the waste and the pork and there still isn't enough revenue to cover the basic services of the state. I'd much rather have Governor Riley (a man that hates taxes just as much --if not more-- than you or I) presiding over this process than Don Siegelman, Lowell Barron, Roger Bedford--or even Paul Hubbert. Even so, it will be necessary to work with all these folks to get Riley's plan through the legislature. That's politics. We simply can't afford to let single issue politics rule the day.
Let's work with the Governor for our state, our children, and their future.
State Executive Committee
I certainly agree with your treatise on the evils of Governor Riley's compromise with Dr. Hubbert. As a retired school superintendent, I have seen how government bureaucrats in Alabama have consistently overestimated their expenses in order to "force" the increased taxation and revenue generation on us unsuspecting voters.
Paul Hubbert has failed in his own political efforts and will cause Governor Riley's career to fail. We have seen this capitulation to special interests in our party before with the inevitable defeat of those who fail to subscribe to the principles on which the Republican party is based. When reason has failed in the past then emotion and the idea of "saving our children" has been substituted without facts to support the projected crisis.
It was with great sadness that I read today that Governor Riley regards Ronald Reagan as his model and found in the same newspaper the details of his tax plan. The plan will fail because the accountability measures are not imposed first instead of being a part of the tax increase.
We don't need additional taxes but we must have more accountability in government at all levels.
Dr. Wayne Reynolds
Just a note to say keep up the good work...
"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds."
- Samuel Adams
From an Outstanding Member of a County Committee
Hugh, thanks for your profound analysis of the "state of the state." In summary: We are where we are in this financial crisis, in general, because we elect to the Legislature persons who are there for their own personal interests or to sell their character on the auction block to the highest bidder. Paul Hubbard is the highest bidder, as the average voter in Alabama has no influence on their Legislature because they are not at the auction to bid on their services. Individually the average person does not have influence, and they are not collectively organized. So, why try?
From a Member of the State Executive Committee
I don't think the enemy is all Hubbert, the individual. The enemy is the millions of dollars in PAC money that Hubbert has access to. Whoever follows after Hubbert will be just as powerful (maybe not as smart and cunning). Hubbert is not the only enemy - it's all of these powerful PACs that control and dole out the dollars at election time. It is the elected official who is seduced by the allure of these dollars...we can't put all the blame on Hubbert, lobbyist, or other special interest - the elected official can just say no at anytime. The elected official can vote for or against without the help of lobbyists. It is the elected official that capitulates not only to the money but to the idea that they are important and the lobbyists are important and they want to please the important people - once they get in office they forget from whence they came! Seduced by the power and money...
But I am not criticizing what you are doing - I just think the problem is more than Hubbert. Keep up the good work.
From a Former Member of a City Council
This lunatic Governor is going to destroy the party that you all worked so hard to create. Please stop him... you're the only ones who can!
1.2 Billion... it's crazy. We're only 600 million short. Why 1.2 Billion? To pay for a scholarship program that no one wants?
And no one who makes up to 75 thousand pays any more? Where is the incentive to be rewarded for hard work? This is not a Republican plan... this is a Democrat manifesto. Ronald Reagan Riley, my a_ _! While the President and the Republicans in Congress are trying to stimulate the economy by cutting taxes, Riley proposes the largest tax increase in the history of the state.
But, don't worry... the money will be un-earmarked so that the same people who spent us into this mess will get 1.2 Billion to spend us out of it.
Anyone believe in the tooth fairy?
From a Citizen in Distress
This latest tax solution proposal is nothing more than spitting in the face of the Republican doctrine. We might as well serve Boone's Farm at our Baptist Church for communion this Sunday. Riley has truly offended even the most liberal Republican. Republicans just don't do this. And this is the man George Bush Jr. told us would be good for Alabama ?
From One Concerned About the Party
This is truly a sad day. I wish I had never read this, or hit the link and read your article in Suppressed News, but being the political animal I am I could not help myself. This is going to damage the Republican image in Alabama for a long time. If this is true, and Riley does raise the taxes and plays into Hubbert's hands, we will all have a lot of egg on our faces, and a lot of crow to eat. This is about the worst betrayal I could imagine, and if this comes to pass, I will be forced to start looking for another state to live in. The State of Alabama is a good state, but if this takes place and Riley raises taxes, the two party system we have fought so hard to establish will be a thing of the past. Siegelman will look like a prince in shinning armor. At least with his lottery bill, people could have made a decision as to take part in it, but forced taxes is another issue. I have one small question: Has Bob Riley lost his mind?
From a Sad Republican