Huntsville, Alabama
August 7, 2003

Dear Fellow Republican,

Well, I have quite a story to tell. I have just been an observer to a most astounding event. Herewith is my eyewitness report.

This morning I joined Roger McConnell and others at a press conference here in Huntsville at the Marriott Hotel. The press conference was successful. A number of newspaper and TV media attended, and Roger and others spoke with force and conviction against the improprieties the education establishment is committing in order to get its way in the September 9 vote on the Hubbert-Riley Tax Plan. It is well know that they are using taxpayer resources to promote a yes vote for the largest tax increase in Alabama's history. Roger produced documentation to support his case. Exhibit A in Roger's discussion was a memorandum from a Mobile school official to all principals, transmitting stickers and flyers, and instructing them to distribute one to "each staff member." The memo also said that principals would be receiving "7 yard signs and 3 posters for your school."!

Roger related a particularly gruesome story from a school tax referendum held a year or so ago in Mobile. In this case students were given "pledge cards" to take home to their parents, which they were asked to sign pledging themselves to vote for the tax.

Now, incredibly, here is what happened. Those students who produced no signed pledge cards remained in their rooms, while those who had returned signed pledge cards were invited down to the cafeteria for an ice cream party!-- !!

The press conference this morning ended on a positive note for our side, and Roger prepared to leave. But wait-- this story is still climbing toward apogee.

Roger did not leave for quite a spell. When I had come in the Marriott this morning I had seen several school people wearing "Vote Yes" buttons entering, and was naturally curious about what they were up to. So after the news conference was over I decided to track them down. The Alabama National Guard was also much in evidence, and I suspected that this might be one of those periodic meetings at which the Guard explained to school people the opportunities in the Guard for students.

And I was right. In one of the large salons there were gathered perhaps 200 people for breakfast. Outside the door were several sharp, very personable young non commissioned officers tending a table with Guard literature. I stood in the doorway at the back of the room to see what I might hear. Was that?-- Could it be?-- Oh, surely not. But yes-- why, that was Dr. Ed Richardson speaking! The State Superintendent of Education was addressing the National Guard Meeting!

I'm not going to pretend that I thought he was discussing military matters, because I am not that na´ve. I knew immediately that he was campaigning for the Hubbert-Riley Tax Plan. Dr. Richardson had a slick color presentation which he presented in some 40 minutes to the guardsmen, teachers, and principals gathered there.

I asked one of the guardsmen outside the obvious question: "Sergeant, is the Alabama National Guard campaigning in favor of the tax increase?" The answer was, of course, no. The soldier explained that they had no idea at all that their meeting would be turned into a political rally. And I am certain that he was truthful.

I later found a colonel, one eagle on each shoulder, inside the room and engaged him in some polite conversation. When I asked him about the Guard's participation in this political event he told me that the sergeant was in charge, and that I should see him. Another question or two from me and he explained that the Guard could not be charged with "guilt by association." This was interesting. It implied that the colonel felt that he was associated with something that was awry, otherwise why was he concerned with the possibility that someone would see the association as producing guilt on his part? No guilt can possibly be transferred, by any means, from one party to another unless the first is guilty of something at the outset.

But I imagine that this places the Guard in an awkward position. The sergeant in charge of the meeting told us that the Guard was paying for the breakfast, and I understand that the bill was over $2,000. Certainly the Alabama National Guard is expected to refrain from using federal funds to put on a big political rally. So the Guard may have a point or two to take up with Dr. Richardson. These might include, for instance, why did he hijack their meeting, called to aid in the career development of youth, and convert it into a home-style, chest-thumping political shindig used to promote his personal political agenda.

This incident evokes the thought of a fearsome possibility. If the education establishment can turn their employees into political advocates, free to campaign while on the taxpayer's clock, to go where they will and do what they wish, all at public expense, then we will have spawned in Alabama a political monster. We taxpayers will be paying political agents who have been turned loose to roam the state in hot pursuit of more, ever more of our money.

Surely this outrageous conduct cannot be legal. I understand that legal action is expected shortly.

Sincerely yours,

Hugh McInnish
Madison County, Place 1
State Executive Committee