Huntsville, Alabama
June 10, 2003

Dear Fellow Republican,

Now we know the details of the $1.2 Billion tax package, which has grown to $1.3 billion, being pushed by the Hubbert-Riley Combine. Not that the final details have changed anything. They haven't. What was being proposed as the largest tax increase in Alabama history remains very much that. And it boggles the mind—especially for anyone who is a real Republican.

I am genuinely perplexed, and have decided upon a move which I hope will help to bring some clarity to the picture. I have drafted an open letter to my representative, Republican Howard Sanderford, and have asked him to please answer a few of the pertinent questions. I hope that he will answer with an open response, and that his response will be helpful to us in understanding the quandary we are in. The letter to Rep. Sanderford is given below.

Hugh McInnish
Huntsville, Alabama

June 10, 2003

Dear Howard,

Befuddlement is rampant today in the Party, and I am suffering from no small dose of it myself. I am writing this to you as an open letter in the hope that your response, also open, will serve to settle some of the confusion.

I'm sure I don't have to explain the source of the bewilderment: It is, of course, the unprecedented and utterly bizarre events occurring during the special session just concluded in Montgomery. It is as though someone accidentally clicked on the wrong button, and on the screen what should be black has become white and what is expected to be white is suddenly black.

Since you are my representative allow me to use you as an example. In the package put before the legislature by the Hubbert-Riley Combine were nine bills to raise taxes. On these nine you, the Republican and presumably the conservative, voted present on two, no on one, and yes on six. On the other hand, Rep. Sue Schmitz, the Democrat and presumably the liberal, voted no on each and every one of these bills.

There was a bill to increase the tax on vehicle sales and related things by $210.1 million. You the Republican voted yes, Schmitz the Democrat voted no. There was a bill to take an additional $44.8 million from the taxpayers by raising recording fees. You the Republican voted yes, Schmitz the Democrat voted no. You the Republican also voted to increase taxes on banks by $19.7 million and Schmitz the Democrat voted no.

I will engage in a short thought experiment. Suppose there were a newcomer to our area-- let me call him John-- who is a conservative, but with no firm commitment to either party. Then suppose he became aware of the facts I have just enumerated. And suppose, further, that you were running for reelection against a Schmitz-like Democrat. For whom would John vote? I think it likely that he would go for the Democrat.

This is illustrative of a broad and deep problem in the making for our Party. There are many Johns who vote, and together with their Jane counterparts, they can frequently determine the outcome of an election. How can we so much as hope to sway these independent conservative voters with Republican voting records such as yours that have now been recorded?

I have several specific questions for you that I hope might help me and others to understand why you voted the way you did, and to explain it to those who are looking for explanations. Here are the questions:

  1. What are your core principles regarding the role of government?
  2. The cornerstone of the Republican fiscal agenda is less government and fewer taxes. Do you subscribe to this agenda?
  3. There is a sharp contrast between how the Democrat Sue Schmitz and you voted on the tax bills submitted by the Hubbert-Riley Combine. She voted solidly no on all. You voted for most. Do you consider yourself to the right or the left of Rep. Schmitz?
  4. It is no secret that the Hubbert-Riley Combine is the motivating force driving these proposed new taxes. It is also no secret that AEA/NEA Czar Paul Hubbert is generous, not to say lavish, with the money he bestows on favored legislators. With this in view I would like to ask how much money you have received from his union, either directly or indirectly, and the degree to which it may have influenced your votes.
  5. Do you believe that more money will improve the academic performance of Alabama schools?
  6. In case you believe that more money for schools would be helpful would you explain your rationale for this opinion in view of the many studies showing that money is not the problem?
  7. You voted for a bill creating a college scholarship program. How do you answer the following questions which have been raised in regard to this program?
    1. College educations are already subsidized by the taxpayers through yearly appropriations to the colleges. Why should overburdened taxpayers be called upon to pay still more taxes to educate Alabama children?
    2. One of the requirements for a scholarship is that a student have a B average. But there can be a great difference in a B average at one school whose test scores are in the eightieth percentile, and one whose scores are in the thirties. Would this not be unfair to the students in the more rigorous school?
    3. One problem in our schools today is grade inflation. If a B average is required for a scholarship, would that not increase the pressure to raise grades still higher?
I appreciate your taking the time to consider these questions, and I look forward to what I anticipate will be your thoughtful and helpful answers. One comment that I have begun to hear from other legislators is that voting for these measures signals no particular opinion about them, and no commitment to their passage, but is merely a mechanism for tossing a few things up into the air for the voters to consider. I doubt that such a fence-straddling response will do much for the reputation of the person using this rationale.

These are tough times for the Party. I and others greatly need your help in our attempt to sort through the confusion.



As soon as I get Howard's response I will send it to you.

Meanwhile I continue to receive numerous e-mails from all points of the state, and that's very good. I think it helpful for us to exchange views each other, so please don't hesitate to write. I will include with my next e-mail the backlog which has accumulated.

Previous E-mails

E-mail 1 E-mail 2 E-mail 3
E-mail 4 E-mail 5 E-mail 6
E-mail 7 E-mail 8 E-mail 9
E-mail 10 E-mail 11 E-mail 12

Sincerely yours,

Hugh McInnish
Madison County, Place 1
State Executive Committee